dental emergency

Emergency Dentistry: When Do I Have A Dental Emergency?

Emergency Dentistry: When Do I Have A Dental Emergency?

You haven’t had a chance to get to your Calgary dentist and your toothache has become unbearable.  Your child’s been playing hockey and she’s been struck in the mouth.  You were eating some popcorn and you’ve broken a tooth.  Are these dental emergencies?  What should you do now?  Phone an emergency dentist in Calgary?  Make an emergency trip to the hospital emergency room?  Here’s what to do.

Generally, if you are suffering from any type of dental pain, including pain in your teeth, gums, jaw, mouth or face, or if you have had any injury to your tooth or to its surrounding tissue, or to your jaw, gums or mouth, this would likely be considered to be a dental emergency and as such, should be attended to by a Calgary dentist who sees emergency dentistry patients as soon as possible.

Here are some tips to help you deal with some common emergency dentistry issues until you can be seen by your Calgary emergency dentist:


  • Toothache 
    If you are suffering from a toothache, gently rinse your mouth with warm water to clean away any debris in your mouth, then gently use dental floss to remove any food caught between the teeth that are causing you pain.  If you cannot get to your Calgary emergency dentist immediately, you may wish to consider taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory which can help alleviate some pain and discomfort until such time as you can see your emergency dentist in Calgary.  Caution should be used to ensure that all directions for the use of any medication are followed carefully and that they are not used on a long-term basis to mask the dental issue you may be experiencing.
  • Cracked Tooth
    For a cracked tooth, immediately rinse your mouth with warm water to clean any food debris from your mouth.  Place cold (but not ice) compresses on your face to keep and bring any swelling down.
  • Food Stuck in Teeth
    For food or other objects stuck between your teeth, try to gently remove the object with tooth floss.  Of course, do not try to remove the food or debris with any sharp or pointed instruments as this could cause damage to your teeth, gums, tongue or cheek.  If this fails, call your Calgary dentist – we can help!
  • Knocked Out Tooth
    For a knocked-out permanent (adult tooth), it is important to ensure that the tooth does not dry out and that you ensure the tooth is kept moist at all times. If at all possible, try to place the tooth back in its socket.  If it is not possible to put the tooth back in its socket, then, for adults and children who will not accidentally swallow the tooth,  place it in between your cheek and gums.  You can also place it in milk, or use a tooth preservation product recommended by your Calgary emergency dentist.  Most importantly, be sure to see your emergency dentist without delay and the sooner the knocked out tooth is attended, the better the chances for a favourable outcome.
  • A Badly Bitten Lip or Tongue
    Apply pressure to stop the bleeding.  Once the bleeding as stopped, clean the area around the broken skin on the lip or tongue gently with water and apply a cold (not ice) compress.  Do not place an ice pack directly against your skin.

 Other dental emergencies that warrant immediate attention from your Calgary emergency dentist include the following:

  • bleeding in the lips, gums or tongue
  • facial swelling of any kind
  • pain when biting or chewing
  • a gum infection
  • a blow or injury to the jaw or mouth
  • an abscessed tooth

Whether or not your dental concern is severe enough to warrant a trip to the emergency department at your nearest hospital depends upon the nature of your emergency dental concern.  Certainly, any blows to the face, teeth, mouth or jaw, severe or uncontrolled bleeding in the face or mouth, or severe swelling should be attended to by an emergency physician at your nearest hospital emergency department.  You may also call Alberta’s 811 hotline for advice from a registered nurse on how to proceed.  If you have any doubt as to whether your dental emergency warrants a trip to the ER at a hospital, you should not hesitate to call 811 and obtain advice as to how to proceed.

If your dental emergency is causing your any pain or discomfort, the use of an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory can help alleviate some pain and discomfort until such time as you can see your emergency dentist in Calgary.  Caution should be used to ensure that all directions for the use of any medication are followed carefully and that they are not used on a long-term basis to mask the dental issue you may be experiencing.

If you are experiencing any type of sudden or unexpected tooth, mouth or jaw pain or injury, swelling or bleeding, we recommend that you call us as soon as possible so that we may assess the type and severity of emergency that you are experiencing and provide further direction.

If you have experienced any type of injury to your jaw, mouth or teeth, even if you are not experiencing significant pain, you should be checked by our emergency dentist in Calgary for any possible structural damage to your tooth or damage to the jaw or any surrounding tissues. Often, the sooner treatment is provided, the more favourable the outcome.

Please note that this blog post is for informational purposes only.  You should always consult with your emergency dentist or physician in Calgary for dental or medical advice.  Dr. Dirk Thompson, D.D.S. is a general Calgary dentist.  There is no specialty of emergency dentistry recognized by the Alberta Dental Association & College in Alberta.

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