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A true medical emergency should always be addressed immediately by calling 9-1-1. 

Many dental problems can be managed until a scheduled appointment. but a true dental emergency should be .addressed as soon as feasible. 

Wonder whether a dental problem is urgent or emergent? 

Common Dental Problems

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Type of Dental Problem

Types of Dental Problems


A dental emergency is defined as a dental problem that results in:

  • facial swelling

  • severe pain

  • uncontrolled oral bleeding

  • airway compromise

  • damage to facial bones

  • or potential loss of an adult tooth

  • tooth fracture to the nerve/blood vessel (typically see blood emerging from within the tooth)

Dental emergencies should be addressed either in the office or at a hospital, depending on the situation. 

First Aid Kit

An urgent dental problem can typically be managed until a scheduled appointment during office hours and include problems such as:

  • a cracked or chipped tooth (no bleeding from within the tooth)

  • Discolored tooth

  • dental pain that can be managed with analgesics

  • infection that causes only localized swelling

  • a lesion that requires biopsy of abnormal tissues

Holding Phones

Other problems common to children may be triaged over the phone to determine severity, or may be related to normal growth and development or other issues such as:

  • a wiggly baby tooth

  • crowded teeth

  • discomfort associated with teething

  • gum redness (gingivitis) due to lack of regular brushing and/or flossing

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