How Do I Know If I’m Having a Dental Emergency?

Have you ever had a dental emergency and had no idea where to turn? Dentists are usually open during normal business hours, so what happens if you have an accident that requires immediate care? 

Dr. Larry Adams at Dental Care By Design in Lacey, Washington, provides emergency dental care, so if you’re experiencing a dental emergency, call our office. We want to help. 

There are certain situations, though, when it’s really difficult to know if you’re having an emergency or if you can wait a few hours or even a day or two. This post describes some of what to look for to know whether what you’ve got on your hands is a genuine emergency. 


Most often, dental emergencies involve some kind of trauma, like a car accident, getting hit in the face with a ball, a bad fall, or any of a million other ways we humans hurt ourselves. Such trauma may result in a tooth being knocked out, cracked, or broken. All of those things are dental emergencies. 

Sometimes, trauma that causes a dental emergency is also a medical emergency. For example, a broken jaw is as much a medical as dental emergency. In those circumstances, you should go to the emergency room.

Knocked out or broken teeth 

If your tooth is knocked out, find the tooth. Only touch the crown, or the part of the tooth you can see when it’s properly in your mouth. Touching the root could result in damaging delicate nerves. 

Once you find the tooth, it’s important to keep it moist. You can do that several ways: 

Once the tooth is secured and moist, you may want to take an over-the-counter pain reliever, use gauze to stop the bleeding, apply ice to the affected area, and most importantly, call our office. Follow the same steps for a broken tooth. 

An object is involved

It’s rarer than knocked out or broken teeth, but sometimes people do get objects stuck between their teeth. If this happens, it’s important to be extremely cautious. Don’t attempt to remove the object with another object, like a toothpick.

If you can’t remove the object with a piece of floss, call our office. Having a foreign object stuck between your teeth can cause real damage to your teeth, your nerves, and your gums. 

Tooth pain

Pain in your mouth can be alarming, but it might also be a situation that’s a bit of a gray area. Here are a few ways to know if your pain is indicative of an emergency: 

In these circumstances, you should call Dental Care By Design. It’s possible that you have an infection that could become life-threatening. 

If you have concerns about dental emergency care, schedule a visit to get answers. Or, if you’re experiencing a dental emergency, call our office at 360-207-4992.

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