Understanding Common Dental Emergencies

by Power Road Dental Care

Understanding Common Dental Emergencies

Reviewed By Dr. Tyler N Davis, DMD

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Imagine waking up in the middle of the night with a throbbing toothache or biting down on something hard only to feel a piece of your tooth break off. Dental emergencies can happen unexpectedly, and they need to be attended to as soon as possible to prevent major dental catastrophes. 

But what makes a situation a dental emergency, and how do you respond to it? This guide will explain the most common dental emergencies you may encounter, the immediate steps to take, and how you can prevent these incidents from happening. 

If you have experienced a dental emergency and are searching for an emergency dentist in Mesa, call Dr. Davis and his Team at Power Road Dental Care at (480) 664-1438. If you are a registered patient experiencing a dental emergency outside our regular business hours, we will do our best to accommodate you. 

What Are Dental Emergencies?

A dental emergency is any situation involving teeth, gum tissue, or oral structures that requires immediate attention from a dentist to alleviate pain, treat infection, or save a tooth. These incidents can result from different causes, including decay, trauma, or infection. 

Most emergency dental cases require immediate action. Delaying treatment can make the symptoms worse, increasing the risk of infection and causing irreversible damage, including permanent tooth loss. 

By seeking timely professional help and following appropriate first-aid measures, the pain and discomfort will be minimized, and any underlying dental issues can be treated early on. 

Common Dental Emergencies 

The most common types of dental emergencies are toothaches, chipped or broken teeth, knocked-out teeth, abscesses or infections, and oral bleeding. Let’s discuss what causes these emergencies and how to handle each of them.  


Toothaches are the most common dental emergency. It is described as dental pain or discomfort in or around a tooth, ranging from mild to severe. It can be a dull, sharp, throbbing, or severe pain. 


Toothaches can occur due to decay, dental infection, dental abscess or trauma to the tooth. 

First aid

To alleviate pain from a toothache, rinse your mouth with warm salt water and floss to remove any trapped debris. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever to manage the pain. Always follow the recommended dosage for pain medication. 

A toothache is a sign of something serious happening in your mouth, so make sure to book an appointment with a dentist right away. 

Chipped or Broken Teeth

This happens when a portion of the tooth’s structure has fractured, cracked, or separated from the rest of the tooth, causing severe pain and compromising oral function. 


Chipped or broken teeth are caused by accidents or injuries, such as falls, sports-related impacts, or car accidents, which can cause teeth to chip or break. Chewing on hard foods or objects, habitual grinding or clenching, or weakened enamel can cause teeth to break or chip. 

First aid

When your tooth breaks, try to save the tooth fragment so your dentist can see if it is possible to restore it. Keep any broken pieces in milk, if available, or if not milk than water or saliva. In the meantime, manage the pain with a cold compress and over-the-counter pain medication. 

Take care not to let your tongue or cheek graze over the sharp edges of the broken tooth because it can lead to more dental injuries. Treatment options include dental bonding, crowns, or veneers to restore the tooth’s appearance and function.

Knocked-Out Tooth

If your tooth has been completely displaced from its socket in the jawbone due to trauma or injury, contact your dentist right away. Avulsed or knocked-out teeth require immediate attention to improve the chances of tooth survival. DO NOT DELAY CONTACTING A DENTIST!


This can occur as a result of accidents, falls, sports-related injuries, or other physical impacts to the mouth (i.e. seizure). 


If your tooth got knocked out, gently rinse the tooth with water and avoid touching the root and the soft tissue surrounding the socket. First, try putting the tooth back where it came from in the same orientation as possible. If, however, reinsertion isn’t possible, store the tooth in milk or a tooth preservation solution (water or saliva will work) to maintain its viability until you can see your dentist. If you are experiencing any pain, use over-the-counter pain medication.  

Oral Bleeding

Another common dental emergency is bleeding. Bleeding is tricky because you can’t always identify where the bleeding is coming from. This can be tricky especially if you are on any type of blood thinners. like Coumadin.


There are many reasons why oral bleeding happens. Some of the most common reasons are gum disease, trauma or injury, brushing too vigorously, poor oral hygiene, hormonal changes, medications, or systemic diseases like leukemia and hemophilia. Consult your dentist immediately so they can determine the cause of the bleeding and prescribe the appropriate treatment. 


Using a clean piece of gauze or a clean cloth, apply gentle pressure to the bleeding area. Hold the gauze or cloth in place for at least 10 to 15 minutes to allow the blood to clot. After the bleeding has stopped, rinse your mouth gently with a saline solution to prevent infection. If there is swelling or pain, apply a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a cloth to the outside of the mouth or cheek. If the bleeding is severe, uncontrolled, or the result of a serious injury, visit the nearest emergency department for immediate medical assistance.

Tips To Prevent Dental Emergencies

  1. Practice good oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing regularly, to prevent decay and gum disease. Get your teeth cleaned regularly by your dentist or hygienist.
  2. Wear protective gear like an athletic mouthguard during sports activities to minimize the risk of dental injuries, and concussions. 
  3. Be mindful of what you eat and avoid biting down on hard foods, ice cubes, or non-food items like pen caps or bottle caps. 
  4. Watch what you eat. Reduce your consumption of sugary and acidic foods and beverages, as these can contribute to tooth decay and erosion of the tooth enamel. 
  5. Visit your dentist for routine dental exams for early detection and treatment of any underlying issues.

Your Emergency Dentist in Mesa and the East Valley

Understanding common dental emergencies and knowing how to respond promptly is essential for maintaining oral health and well-being. By recognizing the signs of a dental emergency and taking appropriate action, you can alleviate pain, prevent complications, and preserve your smile. 

If you have experienced a dental emergency and are searching for an emergency dentist in Mesa or an emergency dentist near me, book an appointment with Dr. Davis at Power Road Dental Care at (480) 664-1438. If you are a registered patient experiencing a dental emergency outside our regular business hours, we will do our best to accommodate you. 

Stay tuned for our next blog in this series, Dental First Aid Kit Essentials: Be Prepared for Dental Emergencies. 

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