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How To Know If Your Dental Pain Is An Emergency

December 31, 2023
How To Know If Your Dental Pain Is An Emergency

If you have ever experienced dental pain, you know how it can disrupt your quality of life. Toothaches, broken teeth, and infections can cause severe discomfort and keep you from eating, sleeping, and relaxing.


You may want to know when your pain is an emergency and when you can wait to call the office during regular business hours. This blog offers tips on recognizing emergency versus non-emergency dental pain.

Dental Emergencies

The following symptoms may indicate that you need prompt dental attention:

  • Toothache that lasts more than one to two days
  • Badly cracked tooth
  • Broken tooth
  • Knocked-out or partially knocked-out tooth
  • Dental abscess (often accompanied by gum swelling, fever, and chills)
  • Extreme tooth sensitivity to heat, cold, or touch
  • Oral soft tissue injury


These symptoms can likely wait until the next business day:

  • Dull or mildly throbbing toothache
  • Lost or broken restoration (crown, bridge, filling) unless it causes severe pain
  • Food lodged between teeth
  • Minor crack or chip in a tooth

When to Seek Emergency Medical Care First

If you have severe bleeding, facial injuries, or jaw injuries, you will need to call 911 or visit an emergency room before seeking dental care. If you doubt whether you should go to the emergency room, call the emergency room for assistance.

Self-Care Methods for Dental Discomfort

While you are waiting to see the dentist, you can try to soothe your pain at home using these methods:


Try cold or warm compresses, using the temperature that helps you feel better. Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen to bring the pain down.

Lost Restoration

You may want to put a piece of sugarless chewing gum or dental wax in the hole left by a lost filling to prevent excess sensitivity. Make sure the gum contains no sugar. Save the crown or bridge for possible reattachment.

Food Between Teeth

If you have food between your teeth, it may be more painful than expected. Try gently rinsing your mouth with warm, salted water and flossing the tooth. Repeated rinses may flush out the particle.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Emergencies

Is a root canal a dental emergency?

It can be a dental emergency if it causes severe discomfort. Teeth that require root canals usually have interior infections that need prompt treatment. In addition, tooth pain and sensitivity may be severe.

What happens if the dentist can't reset my lost tooth?

If resetting your lost tooth does not succeed, you may need a restoration like a bridge or implant. If you fail to restore your tooth, it could cause complications, leading to misaligned teeth, tooth decay, and gum disease.

Call Fort Collins Dental Center

If you have a problem with your tooth, please call our office at 970-482-1477. We can assess your problem and propose a solution that works for you and relieves your pain.

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Fort Collins Dental Center
2000 Vermont Drive #200
Fort Collins, CO 80525
Tel: 970-482-1477 | Fax: 970-416-1901
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2000 Vermont Drive #200 Fort Collins, CO 80525
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