When Is It a Dental Emergency and When Can Your Situation Wait?

Posted on: 25 July 2016

When you have problems with your teeth, jaw, or inside of your mouth, some will be outright emergencies, while some might be considered urgent, meaning you should make an appointment as soon as possible even though the problem isn't necessarily an emergency. Of course it's always good to visit a dentist right away if you're not sure of what's an urgent problem versus what can wait, but note a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to your dental care.


Extreme pain should always be checked out as quickly as possible, but if the pain is moderate, you might check for other symptoms inside your mouth. If you can see pus of any color, this usually signals an infection that should be checked out by an emergency dentist. Dull, continuous pain may be a problem with how your teeth are aligned and this might wait until your next appointment.

Note, too, the potential cause of the pain. Were you recently injured from a fight, a fall, or something similar? In that case, you might have a fractured jaw that should be checked by an emergency dentist. If you recently had dental work done and are in extreme pain, this might mean that an infection has set in, you're rejecting your dental implant, or something else that should be seen by an emergency dentist.

Loose tooth

How loose is the tooth? If it's just a little wobbly, you want to see a dentist as soon as possible but this might not mean you have an emergency. You might have gum disease that has caused the gum to pull away from the teeth so it's not secure any longer. If the tooth seems to be hanging on by its roots, then you need to see an emergency dentist; don't assume you can just put the tooth in place and it will somehow heal on its own. If teeth are note actually loose but you notice that they're not aligned as they once were, this can usually wait until your next dental appointment. Your jaw line is probably simply changing with age and the teeth are moving along with it.

Swollen tongue

If you bit your tongue and it swells a bit, you might wait to see if the swelling goes down after a few hours. If not, you want to see an emergency dentist. This often means an infection has set in. If the swelling goes down but the tongue still hurts, see a dentist as soon as you can to note if you might have a health condition that makes for slow healing.