Dental EmergenciesThe number of emergency room visits due to dental emergencies in the U.S. is on the rise. A neglected, broken tooth today can become tomorrow’s painful toothache. And, having a dental emergency is undoubtedly both overwhelming and stressful. So how do you know what is considered a dental emergency and what you should do if you or a loved one is experiencing dental pain?

At Padden Dental, we always want to make sure you’re well informed so you know what to do to help minimize pain during a dental emergency. The following are the most common types of dental emergencies, a few tips to keep in mind when one strikes, and steps for being proactive:

Please note:  If you are reading this and think you have a dental emergency, current patient or not—please get in touch with Padden Dental as soon as possible.

What Is Considered A Dental Emergency?

Not every situation is a dental emergency, so to help you determine if you can wait to see the dentist or if you need to head to the emergency room, here are some questions that can help:

  • Do you have sudden tooth pain or discomfort?
  • Are you bleeding?
  • Did you lose a tooth? Or do you have loose teeth?
  • Do you have chipped or broken teeth?
  • Does it hurt when you chew?
  • Do you have signs of an infection? (swollen gum, bleeding, and swelling around the face)

If you answered YES to any of those questions, you might be in the middle of a dental emergency. The most important steps to take when handling any dental emergency include:

    1. Stay calm: We know it can be stressful, so breathing deeply can help you stay calm and think clearly.
    2. Assess the situation: Ask yourself what happened that caused the issue. Reviewing the situation helps you better explain to the dentist what happened and you can determine the next steps. Important information to relay to your dentist may include:
      • How long have you been in pain?
      • Is there swelling?
      • Does it feel like a tooth hurts or do the gums ache?
      • Is the tooth more sensitive to hot or cold?
      • Does the tooth pain wake you up at night?
  1. Call us immediately: Contact us and explain what happened. We can also provide you with additional steps to follow.

The Most Common Dental Emergencies and What You Should Do

Every emergency can be different, but some of the most common dental emergencies include the following:

Cracked or Broken Tooth

If you have a cracked or broken tooth, a practical first step is to rinse your mouth with warm water. Then, if you can, locate the pieces of your tooth and carefully rinse them as well. You can also place a cold washcloth over the affected area to help reduce swelling. Taking ibuprofen can also help manage any pain.

Please schedule an appointment as soon as possible so we can evaluate and fix your tooth and help better manage any pain you may have.


There could be various reasons why the pain started, such as an infection, lost filling, a damaged crown, or the need for a root canal. To manage the pain in the meantime, you can gently clean your mouth with warm saltwater, use a cold washcloth to reduce swelling, and take ibuprofen and/or Tylenol if you are able.

Lost Permanent Teeth

In the U.S. alone, more than 5 million teeth are lost due to trauma. However, we may be able to save the tooth if you follow a few key steps.

Gently hold the tooth without touching the roots and give it a rinse with water. Still holding it by the crown, place it back in your mouth and come to our office within the next half hour. You might have to keep holding it in place, but this can be an effective way to preserve the tooth. If this isn’t possible, placing the tooth in milk is also effective.

How To Avoid A Dental Emergency

The best and most effective way to prevent a dental emergency is to have consistent cleanings and checkups with your dentist. Your dentist can spot possible signs of loose fillings or crowns, as well as any potential signs of decay or infection.

But we also know sometimes life just happens. So, if you do find yourself in the middle of a dental emergency, please do not hesitate to Contact Us.  We can help!

About Eric Dahlen

Eric Dahlen, DMD Padden Dental

Dr. Eric Dahlen is your local family dentist and enjoys making same day crowns in Vancouver, WA. Need a new smile? Are you suffering due to poorly shaped or damaged teeth? Dr. Eric has a special interest in endodontics. “I like endodontics because it is usually associated with a patient in pain. I like to get people out of pain and by doing so, their fear of dentistry reduces."

Give me a call today to schedule a consultation in our Padden Dental office by calling (360) 213-1999.

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