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Emergency Dentist Care: When Do I Need to Go?

Medically reviewed by Grazielle Millo-Paderes, DDM, MSc · Dentistry · Unihealth-Parañaque Hospital and Medical Center

Written by Hazel Caingcoy · Updated Feb 10, 2022

    Emergency Dentist Care: When Do I Need to Go?

    An urgent dental situation requires immediate treatment to stop bleeding, relieve severe pain, or eliminate infection. Most oral emergencies that involve bleeding, pain, or trauma to the mouth should be treated by an emergency dentist. A medical practitioner may be consulted if dental care is not accessible.

    When Do You Need an Emergency Dentist?

    Displaced or Fractured Tooth

    The first and most common emergency that leads someone to contact an emergency dentist is a displaced or fractured tooth.

    When it comes to dental emergencies involving a displaced or fractured tooth, trauma is often the cause. A displaced or fractured tooth can at times cause severe pain and irreversible damage. If not treated immediately by an emergency dentist or medical doctor, it can also possibly lead to infections. 

    Tooth Fracture

    A fractured tooth or cracked tooth syndrome (CTS) occurs when the tooth develops a crack. This can either be caused by something as simple as biting a hard candy. Small cracks can sometimes occur, and they don’t often need to be treated by an emergency dentist but these conditions would still require medical attention. Occasionally, it can lead to the breakage or splitting of your tooth.

    Tooth Luxation

    When your tooth is luxated, the tissues, ligaments, and possibly even bone that support it have been injured. A trauma, such as a fall or accident, can result in tooth luxation. Each type of luxation will present different symptoms and require different treatments.

    Tooth Avulsion

    Losing a tooth is called tooth avulsion. A tooth can be knocked out by accidents or injuries. In order to save your tooth, you must seek immediate medical treatment. As first aid care, the tooth can first be reinserted or saved in milk while on the way to the hospital. Further treatment is needed as soon as possible. 

    Oral iInfection

    A serious oral infection may also be considered a dental emergency. Some conditions, such as cold sores or gingivitis, need medical treatment but are not considered emergencies. 

    Serious oral infections can lead to cellulitis, or an even more severe condition, Ludwig’s angina, an infection that begins on the floor of the mouth, behind the tongue. It can cause swelling around the jawline or under the mouth which can then result in difficulties in swallowing or breathing.

    If not treated by a medical doctor or an emergency dentist, bacteria causing the swelling can spread from the mouth cavity to the pericardial tissue surrounding the heart.


    When the pulp within a tooth becomes irritated and infected, it causes a toothache (pulpitis). If the pulpitis is caused by a dental injury, such as a cavity or a fracture, a dentist may be able to stop the swelling and save the tooth.

    In some cases, the inflammation can also be caused by an infection. Irreversible pupilitis becomes a dental emergency when the pain is no longer tolerable and can no longer be managed with off-the-counter pain relievers. 


    An abscessed tooth has a pocket of pus in an area near the root of the tooth which is usually from an infection. An abscess can occur in different regions of the tooth for different reasons. A tooth abscess can be very painful and if you don’t seek tretment, it may lead to infection that spreads throughout the body.

    Facial Cellulitis

    Cellulitis affects the skin and soft tissues beneath the skin. A tooth abscess can be the cause of facial cellulitis. This serious condition can cause swelling and when that happens, the infection can spread rapidly throughout the body. 


    Pericoronitis refers to inflammation and infection of the gum tissue around the wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth refer to the third and final set of molars, which appear during adolescence or early adulthood.

    Wisdom teeth that have yet to erupt or have only partially emerged are likely to cause pericoronitis. It is possible for partially-erupted wisdom teeth to leave behind a flap of gum tissue. This flap collects particles from food and other things that enter your mouth, making it a prime area for bacteria growth.

    Most emergencies should receive attention as quickly as possible, but there might not be an emergency dentist available immediately. Seeing a doctor as soon as possible is necessary if the pain and discomfort persist and cannot be managed with pain relievers. Seek treatment at your nearest hospital emergency room, and find out if you still need a dental visit for further treatment. 


    Dental emergencies can be a serious problem. One of the most common is tooth pain, from a cavity or an infection in the tooth. Dental emergencies can also occur if a tooth cracks or comes off which is caused by trauma, accidents, or falls. 

    When there is swelling, a considerable amount of pain, or a tooth coming off, it would be best to seek attention from an emergency dentist immediately. If dental care is not available, go to the nearest emergency room. 

    Learn more about Oral Care here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Grazielle Millo-Paderes, DDM, MSc

    Dentistry · Unihealth-Parañaque Hospital and Medical Center

    Written by Hazel Caingcoy · Updated Feb 10, 2022

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