November 9

Teeth Talk: Can an Emergency Room Fix a Tooth?

Did you know that more than 40% of people have reported feeling pain in their mouth during the last year? Also, more than 80% of adults will have had at least one cavity by the age of 34? 

When you have a dental emergency, your dentist should be your first port of call. But what if you encounter an issue on a holiday, weekend, or in the middle of the night? If you are suffering from a serious dental problem that requires immediate attention outside of normal business hours, you will most likely need an emergency dentist or even an emergency room visit.

For example, you might have suffered a smack to the face, and your tooth has become loose or perhaps fallen out. Or maybe you're suffering from excruciating tooth pain that you're not even sure how you're going to get through the day. Dental emergencies can arise at any moment of the day or night.

If you have a dental emergency, you may be unclear whether you should go to the hospital or a dentist for treatment. Find out more about what you should be aware of.

Missoula Emergency Dentist

Is A Visit To The Emergency Room Necessary?

Dental emergencies are a common occurrence. Not every dental problem, on the other hand, is a dental emergency. Asking yourself the following questions can help you evaluate whether you can wait to see your dentist or whether you need to go to the emergency room or visit an emergency dentist right away:

  • Are you experiencing excruciating pain? Extreme pain and bleeding indicate the need for immediate medical attention
  • Have you ever had a tooth fall out? If you treat a tooth immediately there is a chance to save it
  • Do you have a missing tooth? Adults should never experience tooth loss. Even without discomfort, a loose tooth is a significant issue
  • Are you suffering from an infection? An abscess or other primary infection in the mouth can be potentially fatal. Treatment should begin immediately. You may detect swelling or lumps on your gums, as well as swelling in the area around your face
  • Are you bleeding heavily from your mouth? This is a possible indication of an emergency

As a general rule, you classify any dental problem as a dental emergency when it requires:

  • Immediate treatment to stop bleeding
  • Ease extreme pain
  • Save a tooth

Additionally, you should take into account any harmful infections that can be life-threatening.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it may be a dental emergency. Contact your dentist as soon as you can and explain your symptoms. If your dentist is not available, you may need to visit your nearest emergency room.

What Does NOT Constitute Dental Emergency?

If you can postpone the problem until your dentist can see you within the next few days, it is not considered a dental emergency. Sometimes you can put off problems that appear to be life-threatening for a day or two if you take good care of yourself in that period.

You can consider a chipped or broken tooth, for example, as an emergency if the fracture is extremely painful or if there are sharp shards left behind. These shards can cause trauma within your mouth. However, if you have chipped the tooth but it does not ache, you can postpone seeing your dentist until he can repair the chip.

You can also leave a minor toothache untreated as long as the pain is not severe. Also, if you do not have any signs of an abscess, swelling of the face, bumps on the gums, or a high fever due to the pain.

Different Types of Dental Emergencies

Tooth decay, gum disease, and a chipped tooth are just a few of the most common oral emergencies patients have. Prevention via regular dental visits is the most effective approach to maintain your oral health. In addition, knowing what to do in an emergency can help you avoid long-term damage. 

Let's look at the most common dental emergencies and know what to do if you find yourself in one of them?

Excruciating Toothache

Toothaches are one of the most typical reasons for people to seek treatment from a hospital emergency room. In addition, you should consult an emergency dentist if a tooth remains uncomfortable for more than two days.

You should rinse the tooth with warm water during this period, and you should avoid hard foods. Someone may have a tooth abscess if there is swelling around the tooth or any pus discharge from the tooth.

In other circumstances, the discomfort may signify a significant cavity or indicate the need for root canal therapy. These symptoms are the body's way of communicating that something is wrong and that they should seek medical attention.

If the pain is intolerable from the start, it is in the best interest of the person to seek emergency dental care as soon as possible. An intravenous drip containing pain medication may be administered in the emergency room to alleviate the pain. 

When Your Tooth Is Knocked-Out

Another frequent reason for an emergency dentist appointment is a knocked-out tooth. The sooner one responds, the more likely an emergency dentist will be able to re-implant the tooth. After losing an adult tooth, clean it with water and place it back into the socket or in a jar of milk to preserve it. Again, it is critical to avoid disturbing any of the roots or tissues linked to it.

Bring the knocked-out tooth to an emergency dentist within an hour of it falling out. Doing this gives you the best success rate with re-implantation. In addition, people who seek emergency care early may save money by avoiding the need for costly dental implants.

Partially Knocked-out or Loose Tooth

Partially knocked-out teeth, like knocked-out teeth, must be seen by an emergency dentist right away. The tooth may be somewhat misaligned but remain connected to the nerves. An emergency dentist will determine if they can return the tooth to its proper position or extract it.

The tooth can be saved at this point, but it must be done as soon as possible after the accident.

Chipped or Cracked Tooth

If a tooth is chipped or cracked and causes pain, the best immediate course is to visit an emergency dentist. This is because a chipped or broken tooth will not only bring discomfort to the person who has it, but it will also make it tough to clean regularly.

Use a cold compress to keep the tooth area from swelling up until you get to the nearest emergency room. This will alleviate any discomfort you may have. In addition, the emergency room may use intravenous sedation for your comfort during specific dental emergency procedures.

If a chipped or fractured tooth is not repaired, it can result in severe cavities, in addition to the discomfort of having to live with it.

Losing a Filling or a Crown

Fillings, crowns, and dental implants keep your teeth from decaying. If a filling or crown falls off, the tooth becomes more vulnerable to disease and pain. Clean and keep the crown and bring it to to the emergency room to see whether it may be reattached to the tooth.

If the crown can be slipped back on until the next appointment, it is crucial to do so without injuring the crown, filling, or tooth.

Broken Braces

When it comes to braces, tough is the word to use. These metal wires and bands are built to resist the daily rigors of chewing, eating, and even talking.

In any case, they can shatter or stick out, poking you in the face or the gum line. Not only does this create discomfort, but it also has the potential to delay or even reverse the progress of the alignment and straightening of teeth.

If this occurs, try pushing the damaged wire into a more comfortable place. If this isn't possible, use orthodontic wax, a small cotton ball, or a piece of gauze to cover the exposed end. Please don't cut the wire, no matter how uncomfortable it is.

Abscess and Infection

Mouth infections, especially at a tooth's base or between the teeth and gums, are dangerous. Untreated, they can spread to neighboring teeth, gums, and even the body.

Not sure if you have an abscess? Look for a painful lump or swollen gum. Call an emergency clinic right away to avoid worsening dental health issues. For temporary relief, rinse with mild water and apply ice to the swollen area.

Keep Your Smiley Face On!

When you have a dental emergency, the first person you should contact is always your dentist. Although a thorough dental hygiene regimen can help keep these situations at bay, dental emergencies do occur.

If you have a dental emergency, the sooner you receive professional dental treatment from an emergency room, the better. If you are in the Missoula, Montana area, contact us for any dental emergency! 


We're a 100% patient-centered dental practice serving central and western Montana. Our priorities are patient comfort, predictable outcomes, and longer-lasting results.


General Dentistry, Lost Teeth, Mouth Pain

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