What Is a Dental Emergency? (When to Seek Help & More!)

Female holding her jaw in pain.

Do you know what’s considered a dental emergency?


If you’re like most people, you probably try to sleep off annoying or persistent tooth pain.

But when is it time to seek help?

In our quick blog, you’ll learn the difference between an emergency, a dental emergency, and non-emergency procedures.

Keep reading to see how to know when you need to take action immediately.

When should I call 911?

We want to differentiate between an emergency that requires hospitalization versus a dental emergency.

If you are experiencing:

  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Facial or oral trauma that involves broken bones or bleeding that won’t stop
  • Anything that may be compromising your airway and breathing

Call 911 or go to the emergency room.


These injuries may be life-threatening.

Saving your tooth or jaw is no longer the main priority – the focus will be on saving your life.

This includes:

  • Making sure your airways aren’t compromised and you can breathe properly
  • Stopping extreme blood loss

Next, we’ll discuss what an actual dental emergency is and why you should have an emergency dentist on speed dial.

What is a dental emergency?

Some dental emergencies can be prevented by proper oral care. This includes brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly.


There are situations that require immediate medical attention and treatment.

A sure-tell sign is an unbearable pain.

This usually occurs with a:

  • Knocked-out tooth
  • Loose or broken restoration (implant, crown, bridge)
  • Abscessed tooth (looks like a blister or pus)
  • Dental trauma or injury

In a dental emergency, the most important step is to stay calm.

Assess your situation and immediately contact a 24-hour emergency dentist.

If it’s during regular business hours, you may be able to be seen right away. Otherwise, you should seek a dentist who offers extended hours or weekends.

Now, we’ll discuss three common tooth accidents and what you should do.

Knocked-out tooth

If your tooth gets knocked out, it will require immediate attention and treatment.

Take the following steps for saving your tooth:

  • Put it in milk as soon as you can
  • Use gauze or cotton to stop bleeding
  • Rinse and save pieces if your tooth is chipped or broken

This will help preserve your tooth and allow your dentist to restore it more manageably.

Loose or broken restoration

Bone loss over time may be the cause of a loose dental implant.

This can occur due to infection, gum disease, or if the implant was not placed properly.

These cases are time-sensitive and require urgent emergency treatment.

A loose or broken crown will leave your tooth exposed and vulnerable, possibly leading to tooth damage.

When your restoration is loose, you want to avoid chewing on that side of your mouth until you can see your dentist.

If your restoration is broken:

  • Try to save the broken pieces
  • Rinse off with lukewarm water and antibacterial soap

It’s an urgent dental matter that can alleviate pain and prevent further infection.

Abscessed tooth

A tooth abscess is painful and requires immediate attention.

An abscess is a pus-filled bacterial infection that causes pain and swelling in or around the root of your tooth. Your tooth root contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue that an infection can compromise.

If not treated immediately, it can lead to tooth loss or the infection spreading throughout your body.

In the meantime, you should:

  • Use a saltwater rinse for temporary pain relief
  • Put a cold compress on swollen or painful facial areas

Where can I find an emergency dentist in the Pacific Northwest area?

Looking for a 24-hour emergency dentist in Renton, WA?

We have your back.

Give us a call now at 253-277-8767.

In addition to emergency dentistry, we also offer family dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and restorative dentistry services. We’ll take care of every aspect of your oral health to ensure total wellness.

For your convenience, we offer extended office hours and Saturdays.

If you just need regular dental care, schedule your appointment today.

Book Online Now

Or reach us by:

Our office is based in Renton, WA,… This text opens a new tab to the Google Maps website… and we welcome patients from all over the Pacific Northwest, including Kent, Tukwila, Maple Valley, and Covington.

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