What counts as a dental emergency?

Not all dental situations are emergencies. We unpack how to tell what kind of dental situation you might be experiencing.

When something is not quite right with your teeth, gums, or mouth, how do you know if it's a dental emergency? Something might seem like an emergency to you - "It HURTS when I eat ice cream!" But a dentist won't consider it an emergency - "Cold sensitivity? Let's schedule that next week." Here's what you need to know to determine if you're having a dental emergency.

First, let's unpack the differences between a dental emergency and urgent dental care.

A dental emergency is potentially life threatening and requires immediate attention. Urgent dental issues mean you have severe pain, or are at risk of severe infection. If your situation is urgent, you'll be uncomfortable but you can take steps to get better.

So, have a concern? Not sure what to do?

Read the following list of questions and answer "yes" or "no.":

  • Are you experiencing uncontrolled bleeding?
  • Are you experiencing swelling that is close to obstructing your airway?
  • Did you experience trauma to your face? Is the resulting damage obstructing your airways?

If you answered "yes", you might have a dental emergency. If that's the case, call an emergency doctor right now. Did you answer "no?" Great! See if you answer "yes" to these questions to find out if you are in an urgent dental situation: 

  • Severe pain from swelling in the gum
  • Pain in or around your wisdom teeth
  • Dry socket
  • Localized gum pain or gum swelling
  • Chipped tooth or cracked tooth
  • Dental trauma resulting in loose teeth, or loose / dislocated jaw

Did you answer "yes" to any of these questions? You might have an urgent situation.

What to do?

If you're experiencing an urgent issue, get in touch with a dentist. It's the most cost effective option, and they will be well-equipped to handle your concern. That said, it can sometimes take days or even weeks to book an appointment.

Don't have a dentist? Need more immediate help? Then chat with our Care Team. Our Care Team is available 24/7 to listen to your concerns and connect you to a dentist as soon as the same day. Even better? More than 50% of urgent cases are addressable from home. A virtual visit could mean starting the healing process without leaving your couch. 

Got a dental concern (urgent or non-urgent)? Chat with us today and get connected to a dentist.

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