Dental emergency. How you define it and what you need to do.



The term "emergency" is subjective because people have different reactions to contexts and pain. If you feel overwhelmed by a certain dental disorder and you don’t know how to manage the pain, the best thing you can always do is to check with a doctor. Many times, dental emergencies can be easily ignored for the simple fact that some people overlook toothache (which may go away with a pill) and for the "fear of the dentist", reasons that are very popular. Such fear has a higher intensity than the general "fear of doctor". Here are several situations that fall under the "dental emergency" category, for you to better understand why it is important to go to the emergency department when pain or other visible symptoms show up in the mouth area.

1. Toothache

A toothache caused by cold or sweet food/drinks

If you have this reaction, avoid using the painful tooth when you eat. Try to use room temperature or slightly warm food or drinks and avoid sweets. Make an appointment with a dentist. At this stage, it’s usually about a cavity and the tooth nerve can still be saved.



A toothache caused by hot food/drinks

It is a more serious situation when the pain you feel is a reaction to hot food/drinks. Firstly, try to consume colder food or drinks. Do not postpone under any circumstances the visit to the dentist! Most likely, the nerve is infected and you need complex dental treatment. You may take antibiotics only upon medical advice.

Pain after heaving a filling done

Sometimes this pain can be normal. You can take Paracetamol every 12 hours for three or four days. If the pain doesn’t go away during this time, it might be a dental emergency and you should go to the dentist.

Pain after nerve removal

Same as above, you can take one simple Paracetamol every 12 hours. The pain arising after the root canal treatment is normal and can last up to 2-3 weeks. If the pain doesn’t go away within this amount of time, we recommend visiting your dentist.

Pain after scaling or root planing

After scaling or root planing, you might feel oral to moderate dental pain. In general, this sensitiveness passes by itself in a few days. Using a toothpaste with fluoride may reduce pain and make symptoms disappear faster.


2. Swollen or abscessed tooth

Rinse well using mouthwash and try to suck from the affected tooth. Try to scrape the food out of the cavity as well. Most likely, you must take an antibiotic, such as Amoxicillin or Erythromycin (for patients with allergies to antibiotics). To relieve pain, you can also take Paracetamol, Nurofen, Paduden or any other preferred anti-inflammatory drug.

If there is a swollen tooth, you must urgently go to the dentist. The antibiotics must be taken upon doctor's recommendation, not as you feel like.


3. Swollen face

Swollen face due to a tooth decay.

Rinse well using mouthwash and try to suck from the affected tooth. To relieve pain, you can take Paracetamol, Nurofen, Paduden or any other preferred anti-inflammatory drug. You MUST URGENTLY SEE YOUR DENTIST!


Swollen face due to extraction or apicectomy

It is normal to have a swollen face after surgery of the bone. After extraction, apical resection or insertion of dental implants, it is normal for that area to get swollen. The facial swelling, in this case, is called edema and is a common response of the body to the suffered trauma. Edema occurs during the first few days after surgery and may take another few days to reduce. After 48 hours, it gradually resolves itself. To limit the swelling, we recommend the application of cold compresses on the face, not pure ice as it could damage the skin. The more coldness you apply, the smaller the size of the edema. It is also important to take antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, according to the doctor’s prescription. If edema persists for more than 4-5 days, accompanied by fever, and red-yellowish liquid leaks from the surgery site, then you have to visit the dentist, as it might be an infection.


4. Broken tooth

If you have a broken tooth , you should see the dentist as soon as possible because this is clearly a dental emergency. Keep the piece of the broken tooth in a container with milk or sterile solution (you can use sterile urine containers). Depending on the size and damage of the broken tooth, the missing part can be "glued" to the rest of the tooth. Except for the tooth loss, the supporting bone can be affected.



If the tooth went out of the socket, it can be reimplanted to be in the same position as before. To achieve this, it is very important for you to go to the doctor during the first 3 hours from the event. Do not touch the tooth root in any way! You can only touch the tooth crown and keep the broken tooth in a container with milk or sterile solution (you can use sterile urine containers). If there is any bleeding area, bite using a sterile piece of gauze.

Attention! If the fracture occurred as a result of trauma (accident or conflict), call the emergency number immediately! In this case, you should go through general medical investigations.

5. Dental work falling out

If your dental work has fallen out, clean it as well as possible. Afterward, you can use a dental adhesive to temporarily put it into place. Another solution is using sugar-free chewing gum. If you can’t reach a dental office in short time, you should use the above-mentioned temporary solutions for a longer period of time. At the end of each day or whenever needed, you will have to clean and remove the already used material from the dental work before changing it with a new one. For small dental appliances there is the risk of you swallowing them, so be very careful!

6. I can’t open my mouth

It is normal to not be able to open your mouth after a wisdom tooth extraction. We recommend you to practice mouth opening and closing exercises and apply cold compresses on the face. The erupting wisdom teeth can determine the same reaction. If local pain and fever add up to this situation, it might be pericoronitis. Rinse thoroughly with a mouthwash containing chlorhexidine. You might need an antibiotic. We recommend you to see the dentist.

7. Bleeding gums

The gums will bleed when inflamed. The inflammation may be caused by significant tartar buildup or by aggressive brushing. In the first case have better oral hygiene or see a dentist and in the second case change your toothbrush to one with soft bristles.


8. Mouth ulcers

Do you have unusual spots or sores in your mouth for a few weeks or even months? You must see a doctor. The most prone areas to oral cancer are the tongue and areas under the tongue. Another symptom can be the redness of the lips. If the wounds do not resolve with oral hygiene measures, we advise you to see a dentist or a maxillofacial surgeon.


9. The sensation of fluids in the maxillary sinuses

Have you recently had an upper tooth extraction? The sensation of fluids in the sinuses may indicate maxillary sinus opening. It’s necessary to see your dentist because it is a serious dental emergency.



10. Locomotive breath

Have you recently had an upper tooth extraction? The locomotive breath may indicate the opening of the maxillary sinus. It’s necessary to see your dentist because it is a serious dental emergency.


11. A tooth is moving

If one of your teeth is moving because you bit some hard food, you must see a dentist. Try to avoid using the moving tooth.


12. Mouth bleeding

Have you recently had a tooth extraction?

If your mouth is bleeding, put pressure on a piece of gauze on the extraction area for half an hour. If the bleeding continues, go to the dentist or call the emergency services immediately.


How long ago have you been to the dentist?

The bleeding may be a consequence of the dental inflammation. The spontaneous bleeding may come from a serious gum inflammation resulted from the bacterial plaque/dental tartar or may be a consequence of a serious disease. You must go to the dentist.


13. Lost dental filling

Most of the times, losing a filling is not a dental emergency. If the tooth is sensitive, you can follow the steps under the section “A toothache caused by hot or cold food/drinks”, depending on your situation.


14. Pregnancy and dental emergency

During the pregnancy, dental interventions should be avoided. Any dental treatment is forbidden during the first three months of pregnancy when the fetus is formed. During the last three months of the pregnancy, there is a risk of premature birth and, again, dental treatment should be avoided.

Any type of antibiotics will be taken with CARE! Only the gynecologist or pediatrician can decide whether the future mother  may take any drugs in case of emergency.

What you should NOT do in case of dental emergency:
  • do not take antibiotics without a doctor's recommendation;

  • don’t apply medications on the painful area or site. If they have a long contact with mucous membranes, some medications can produce serious diseases: burns and even oral cancer;

  • do not rinse the mouth with alcohol or spirits. You may relieve the pain temporarily, but the consequences can be as severe as in the previous paragraph.

  • do not try to remove your tooth by yourself. Even when a tooth is very mobile, it is better to see a dentist. Certain general disorders, besides the local infection, can cause significant bleeding after self-extraction;

  • do not use an anesthetic spray to relieve pain. The pain will be relieved, but burns may show up, you can swallow the substance and, in the long term, your dental problems will get worse.


What to do to prevent the dental emergency:

  • visit your dentist before conceiving a child;

  • schedule regular checkups, especially if you have prosthetic work or dental implants;

  • see your dentist as soon as you have any suspicious signs;

  • when you notice red wounds, sores or lumps anywhere in the mouth area (lips, gums, tongue, face), call your dentist.

  • before starting any chronic treatment, especially for osteoporosis, cancer or blood fluidity, it is better to fix dental problems, if any;

  • before a heart surgery, the removal of any oral center of infection is indicated;

  • maintain or develop a consistent attitude towards oral hygiene.


Take care of yourself and Have a Healthy Smile!


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Latest comments

  • Cosmin Circu said More
    Nu ar trebui sa fie o problema atat timp cat starea Dvs de sanatate generala este buna si la momentul interventiei nu sunteti sub influenta...
  • Cosmin Circu said More
    Va trebui sa discutati cu medicul ce a facut anestezia aceasta chestiune.
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