Tooth Pain: When to Seek Emergency Dental Care

Dental pain and toothache

However well you take care of your teeth, there are times when emergency dental care is needed, and it can happen to anyone. With dental emergencies, it’s critical to visit an emergency dentist or a hospital emergency room as soon as possible.

In most cases, unless the emergency dental care is trauma-related and part of a larger trauma, hospital emergency rooms don’t provide treatment, so an emergency dentist is the main contact. If you are having a dental emergency, get professional help immediately.

What Are Dental Emergencies?

If you are experiencing severe pain or damage to your teeth, it is likely a dental emergency. Some common dental emergencies are:

  • A severe toothache or sharp dental pain that does not go away, or extreme temperature sensitivity
  • Chipped or broken teeth
  • Tooth abscess, tooth decay or tooth infections
  • Pericoronitis, a dangerous infection of the gums around the wisdom teeth
  • Knocked out tooth
  • Lost fillings, crowns, and veneers
  • Bleeding and swollen gums, which show advanced stages of gum diseases or other oral health issues
  • Severe bleeding from cuts on the tongue, cheek or other areas of the mouth
  • Jaw pain or jaw cysts
  • Brackets or wires from braces broken or loose

In most of these cases, you will have severe tooth pain or toothache, or pain in the affected areas. If you have extreme oral or dental pain, but are not sure of the cause, you should still seek emergency dental care. Likewise, if you seem to have one of the above situations, but don’t feel a lot of pain, you should still contact an emergency dentist immediately and they can guide you.

Dentist Examines Woman With Toothache

What Are Symptoms You May Be Having a Dental Emergency?

A broken or knocked out tooth is a clear-cut, obvious case that you need emergency dental care. However, there are several symptoms to watch out for that may indicate emergency care is needed.

A severe toothache or dental pain is a key symptom of several dental emergencies, including advanced tooth decay, lost fillings, infected nerves, gum disease, something wedged in it, or a crack or break. Tooth pain can also be caused from a mouth trauma or injury, grinding and clenching, or wisdom teeth coming in. Regardless of the specific cause, extreme pain is a symptom that should be looked at as soon as possible.

A tooth or dental implant that is starting to feel loose should also be checked out, even if you haven’t had any trauma to it.

Redness or swelling in the gums, jaw, cheeks, especially if accompanied by a high fever and headache are also symptoms of an emergency. Difficulty swallowing, mouth pain, and a persistent sore throat are other concerns to watch out for. These can be symptoms of advanced infection or oral cancer.

Dental check up

What Can You Do While Waiting?

If you are having a dental emergency, contact your dentist for immediate attention. However, until you can be seen, there are a few things you can do.

Pain Management

To minimize pain until your treatment, you can use over the counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. A salt-water rinse can help keep the area clean, reduce swelling, and help with pain, too. Ice packs are effective against swelling and to lessen pain, as well.

Knocked Out Tooth

If the tooth is intact, rinse it gently but don’t try to clean it. If possible, place it into the empty socket.

Broken Tooth

Rinse your broken tooth with water, and hold clean gauze against the affected area.

Lost Crown

Store the crown safely until your dental visit.

Lost Filling

Keep the area clean; you can use dental wax or temporary filling, but only as a temporary measure. If you have the filling, keep it carefully, so your dentist can decide whether it is reusable.


Apply pressure with gauze to the affected area for 15 minutes. After that, if you are still bleeding, a wet black tea bag applied with firm pressure for another 15 to 20 minutes can help.

See Your Dentist Immediately

See Your Dentist Immediately

For any of the above situations, be sure to call a dentist for prompt treatment. At Robson Square Dental, we make every effort to see you as soon as possible if you need emergency dental care. Let us know when you contact us, and we will guide you through your dental emergency.


We Are Committed To Your Smile

At Robson Square Dental, we are committed to helping patients of all ages achieve healthy, bright smiles. Our team of caring, attentive dental professionals will assess your teeth and mouth, offer diagnoses, and prepare a custom treatment plan. We will always speak with you about the treatment options available to ensure that you can make an educated and informed decision about your oral health. Book an appointment today!

850 - 777 Hornby St.

Vancouver, BC, V6Z 1S4


Call us today!

Opening Hours

Mon - Sat: Full details here

Book Appointment