Dental Tips |4 min read

What You Need to Know about Dental Emergencies [It Could Save Your Tooth!]

Experiencing a dental emergency?

First: Don’t panic.

While dental emergencies can be extremely time-sensitive situations, the best thing you can do is stay calm and take the appropriate next steps with a level head.

Here are the next steps you need to take:

Woman cringing in pain while holding jaw experiencing dental emergencies.

1 – Assess whether it’s truly a dental emergency

It’s critical to understand the difference between real dental emergencies and less urgent situations.

Knowing what constitutes a dental emergency will help you decide whether it’s necessary to take immediate action.

This is especially true if it’s a weekend, holiday, or otherwise outside normal business hours for your dental office.

So what are true dental emergencies?

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself:

  • Have you lost, chipped, or cracked a tooth?
  • Are you in severe pain?
  • Do you have signs of infection, such as abscess or swelling?
  • Are you bleeding anywhere in the mouth?
  • Do you have loose adult teeth?
  • If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, seek help immediately.

Don’t delay – even a few minutes could mean the difference between saving or losing your tooth!

What’s NOT a dental emergency?

Sometimes even dental problems that seem serious can wait a day or two until you get properly treated.

Here are a few examples:

  • Mild to moderate tolerable pain with no swelling or abscess.
  • A small chip or crack in the tooth that doesn’t hurt or leave a sharp edge in your mouth.
  • A lost crown or filling that doesn’t cause any pain.

These cases may not be dental emergencies. If it’s after hours, it’s probably okay to wait until your dental office opens.

Of course, if you’re in any doubt, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If your dentist is open, give him or her a call to ask for his or her professional opinion on the urgency of the situation.

2 – Seek help from a trusted dental professional

If you’ve determined that you need an emergency dental appointment, the first person you call should be your dentist.

If your dentist isn’t open, your next best alternative is an emergency dental clinic.

Finally, if you can’t get in to see a dentist, the general emergency room should be your very last resort.


Most hospitals are ill-equipped…Opens in a new window to article about dental visits in ER… to provide proper dental treatment. They may be able to ease the immediate symptoms with antibiotics or pain medication but rarely can treat the underlying issue.

The result – you’ll likely end up back in the hospital when the issue returns, and it may be worse than before.

Even if you do have to go to an emergency room, it’s always a good idea to follow up with your dentist afterward.

They will ensure the issue has been treated properly and work with you on long-term preventative solutions.

3 – Prevent dental emergencies with proactive care

The best way to avoid a dental emergency is to keep your smile healthy and strong through preventative care.

At a minimum, that means:

  • Follow a diligent at-home oral health routine of brushing twice a day and flossing once a day.
  • Visiting your dentist for check-up exams and cleanings at least every six months.

At your check-up appointment, your dentist will look for signs of decay, infection, gum disease, loose fillings and crowns, or problems with any oral appliances.

By practicing preventative care and treatment, you can stop small issues from becoming urgent, expensive, and painful emergencies down the road.

Even with the best of care, sometimes dental emergencies just happen.

That’s why it’s a great idea to have a trusted dentist in your corner that you can turn to if you ever find yourself in one.

As a patient of Croasdaile Dental Arts, you’ll have priority access to same-day emergency care whenever possible.

If you’re experiencing a dental emergency, give us a call immediately.

Call Now:919-383-7402

For less urgent matters, contact our dental team by one of these other convenient means:

We proudly serve Durham, NC, and surrounding communities in Raleigh, Hillsborough, Chapel Hill, Mebane, and Timberlake.