7 Most Common Dental Emergencies and How to Avoid Them

Dental emergencies such as severe tooth pain, bleeding gums or a tooth fracture can be traumatising and must be treated ASAP. But it’s important to understand the difference between a dental emergency and a general dental issue to get the help you need when you need it the most.

Dental emergencies can happen to anyone. While good dental care, oral hygiene, and regular dental checkups help prevent common dental problems, dental emergencies can strike at any time. When not treated or given first aid immediately, they may worsen, further aggravating your dental problem and leading to extreme pain and discomfort.

To help you recognise the difference between a dental emergency and general tooth issues, we’ve compiled a list of the most common dental emergencies, how they should be treated and how to avoid them. Read on to find out more.

What are Dental Emergencies?

Any dental issue that requires immediate treatment is considered a dental emergency. This means it cannot be delayed for a couple of hours or a day until you can schedule an appointment. If there’s anything in your mouth that doesn’t feel normal and is causing you pain or bleeding, then it’s advisable to reach out to your dentist. A dentist is the best person to guide you if there’s a dental emergency and its treatment.

If your dentist is not available, then visit a dental practice that treats dental emergencies in a clinic near you to get the problem looked at. Dental emergencies in children need even faster treatment and should not be delayed for any reason. Treating it with home remedies or delaying treatment may lead to further damage, worsening your pain.

Some examples of dental emergencies include toothache, wisdom tooth pain, and missing and broken teeth. 

Common Dental Emergencies

Some common dental emergencies include:

Broken and fractured teeth

A tooth can break or chip because of biting down on something hard, teeth grinding or clenching, decay and a large filling. Using your teeth to open something like a bottle cap or eating hard candy or nuts can break a tooth, especially if the structure is already weakened. Grinding or clenching your tooth enamel can weaken tooth enamel, eventually leading to fracture or breakage. Similarly, teeth with large fillings can fall out, causing tooth pain and fracture.

If your tooth breaks or fractures for any reason, call your dentist immediately. Apply a cold compress to the area if there’s swelling, and take pain medicine to tide you over until you can reach the dentist. 

Severe toothache

If you have severe toothache accompanied by swelling, it could be an indication of a bacterial infection. Or it could be because of a wisdom tooth that may need to be removed. Take pain medication if you require, and contact your dentist without delay. 

Nerve pain

Dental nerve pain is a sharp, shooting pain caused by inflammation of the nerve inside the tooth. It can be caused by several things, such as cavities, tooth decay, or an infection. When dental nerve pain occurs, it is important to seek professional dental care. Treatment may involve prescribing antibiotics to fight infection, a root canal, or even tooth extraction.

Wisdom tooth pain

Wisdom tooth pain is usually caused by impacted wisdom teeth. This occurs when there is not enough space in the mouth for the wisdom tooth to grow properly. If a wisdom tooth becomes impacted, it can become trapped between the jawbone and the gum tissue, causing pain, swelling, and infection. A wisdom tooth must be extracted by a qualified dentist and the infection treated to prevent further damage. 


A dental infection can affect the teeth, gums, or other structures of the mouth. It is typically caused by bacteria that enter the body through the mouth and settle in the soft tissue or enamel of the teeth. A tooth infection can cause swelling inside your mouth or a tooth abscess which causes a pocket of pus that forms in the gums or at the root of a tooth. Symptoms include severe toothache, bad breath, swelling of the gums, fever, and a bad taste in the mouth.

Post, loose or broken fillings

Loose, and broken fillings are all caused by decay, tooth movement or wear and tear, often due to grinding or clenching of teeth. Decay can cause the tooth to weaken and the filling to loosen, while wear and tear can cause the filling to break. In some cases, the filling may be too big or small or may not have been placed correctly, leading to it becoming loose or broken.

Contact your dentist if you feel your filling has become loose or if you experience pain in that area. 

Dental trauma

Dental trauma is any injury to the teeth or gums. These injuries can range from mild to severe and can be caused by falls, accidents, sports injuries, hits to the teeth and other traumatic events.

If your tooth falls out, pick it up from the crown and reattach it in the mouth. Only rinse if the tooth is dirty. If you cannot reattach it, put it in a cup of milk as this will help in preserving the tooth until you get to the dentist. 

Dental trauma caused by falls, accidents or sports are the most urgent types of dental emergencies.  If you get knocked in the face and are not sure if your teeth have been damaged, call the dental surgery ASAP.  Your dentist will guide you on the best course of action to ensure a good outcome. 

Ways to Avoid Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies may be unavoidable in some cases such as accidents or injuries. But there are certain things you can do to avoid dental emergencies. Practising good dental hygiene and oral care habits helps protect your teeth from cavities and tooth decay. You should also: 

  • Visit your dentist for routine dental checkups and cleaning
  •  Don’t try to resolve dental issues with antibiotics unless prescribed by your dentist
  • Avoid taking medicines without consultation as they may do more harm than good as bacteria can be more resistant to the medicine if taken constantly
  • Never ignore symptoms such as toothache, pain, swelling or bleeding
  • Always brush your teeth for the recommended two minutes with a soft bristle toothbrush to avoid tooth abrasion 

Emergency Dental Services in Blackburn 

At Whitehorse Dental, we understand the distress a toothache, broken tooth, nerve pain, wisdom tooth, and loose fillings can cause. This is why we offer emergency dental services for patients who need treatment fast.

We aim to alleviate your pain and give you the support you need during your emergency under the care of empathetic and qualified dentists  – with recommended follow-up and a personalised treatment plan to protect your teeth from future dental emergencies. Give us a call today.