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What is a Dental Emergency?

Young woman feeling pain, holding her cheek with hand at dentist's office.Toothache concept.

When thinking of emergencies, many people typically imagine life-threatening situations such as heart attacks or car accidents. However, it’s important to understand that dental emergencies are just as significant and require urgent care and treatment.

If you happen to be experiencing intense tooth pain outside of Commercial Road Dental’s regular hours of operation (Monday to Friday 8:30AM – 5:00PM), you can contact (08) 8447 1555 to speak with a dentist. Ignoring a dental emergency can result in severe pain, long-lasting or permanent damage, and the need for more complex and costly dental services in the future.

So what exactly constitutes a dental emergency? And what are some of the most common types you may face? Check out our guide on dental emergencies to learn more.

What is Classed as a Dental Emergency?

A dental emergency is one that requires immediate attention from a trained dental professional.

Dental emergencies usually involve one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Severe Pain: If you’re experiencing severe or unbearable pain in your tooth or gums, it’s important to visit an emergency dentist as soon as possible. Pain generally acts as a signal that something is wrong and requires urgent care from a dentist.
  • Trauma: Immediate emergency dental care is necessary for cracked, chipped, or knocked-out teeth in order to save the tooth and prevent further damage.
  • Excessive bleeding: Any kind of excessive or uncontrollable bleeding in the mouth should be addressed immediately through emergency dental services.
  • Swelling or abscess: Significant swelling in the mouth or face can indicate the presence of an abscess or severe infection, especially when accompanied by extreme pain or fever. This is classed as a dental emergency that needs immediate attention.
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing: Though less common, any dental problem that impairs your breathing or swallowing is a critical emergency that needs urgent dental services.

When Does Tooth Decay Become an Emergency?

If you’re wondering whether tooth decay is considered a dental emergency, it’s important to know that in its early stages, it usually doesn’t require emergency dental services. Instead, it can often be treated during regular dental visits with fillings or other treatments. However, if tooth decay leads to symptoms such as severe pain, an abscess, or an infection, it becomes a serious dental emergency that requires immediate attention from an emergency dentist.

The Most Common Types of Emergency Dental Situations


Toothache can be extremely painful and warrants emergency dental care. Causes of toothache can range from a cavity or an abscess to an impacted tooth, so it’s important to see your dentist immediately to establish the reason for your pain.

If you’re wondering what helps with unbearable tooth pain, temporary relief measures include applying a cold compress to the affected area, taking over-the-counter pain medication, and rinsing your mouth with warm salt water. However, these methods are not a substitute for professional emergency dental services.

A Broken or Cracked Tooth

Sometimes, a broken or cracked tooth may be considered a dental emergency that requires urgent care. The severity of the break or crack will determine the urgency of the treatment needed. Immediate attention may be necessary to prevent further damage and ultimately save the tooth.

A Knocked-Out Tooth

A knocked-out tooth is one of the most serious dental emergencies you can face – and emergency dental care is crucial.

If you still have the tooth, hold it by the crown and gently rinse off any dirt. If possible, place the tooth back in its socket with care; if this isn’t feasible, place the tooth in a glass of milk, which will help to preserve it, and seek emergency dental services immediately.

A Lost Filling or Crown

While a lost filling or dental crown may not be as painful as some other dental emergencies, this situation can expose the tooth to potential damage and decay.

For this reason, it’s important to treat a lost filling or crown as a dental emergency and seek care as soon as possible.

An Abscess

An abscess is a severe infection that occurs around a tooth’s root or in the space between the teeth and gums. Symptoms of an abscess may include fever, pain, tooth sensitivity, and swollen lymph nodes.

Abscesses require immediate emergency dental services to prevent the spread of infection.

Oral Infections

If you experience severe swelling in your face or mouth, difficulty breathing or swallowing, or intense pain, it could be a sign of a severe oral infection that needs immediate emergency dental care. It’s important to seek emergency dental services as soon as possible if you suspect you have an oral infection.

Excessive Bleeding

Whether the bleeding is due to recent dental surgery, an injury, or an unknown reason, uncontrolled or excessive bleeding is a sign that emergency dental services are required to prevent the bleeding and identify the exact cause.

How Soon Should You Seek Emergency Dental Services Near You?

When facing a dental emergency, it’s crucial to act fast. For instance, if you have a knocked-out tooth, it’s best to get urgent dental services within 30 minutes to an hour.

In the case of severe toothache or abscess, it’s important to seek emergency dental services as soon as possible, ideally on the same day.

Dental emergencies require immediate attention from a dental professional. Understanding what qualifies as a dental emergency can help you take action quickly, which will help to minimise further damage.

If you experience any of the emergencies we’ve discussed in this article, contact Commercial Road Dental immediately so we can help you arrange emergency dental services on the same day.

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