When Is Emergency Dentistry Necessary?

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Most of your visits to the dentist are routine. An exam, some X-rays, and a dental cleaning and you're good for another six months. At least, that’s how it usually goes. Dental emergencies don’t follow regular schedules, so you can be forgiven if you draw a blank when thinking about what you might do when faced with such a problem. 

Volterra Dental specializes in emergency dentistry, so we have you covered. Whenever possible we accept same-day appointments, Monday to Friday, to treat dental emergencies. In the moment, you may need to know when emergency dentistry is necessary, and when you can safely downgrade your condition to urgent need. We’ve prepared this guide to outline some of the most common dental emergencies so you’ll be prepared, if the worst happens. 

Defining a dental emergency

Pain is perhaps the key identifier of a dental emergency, particularly when it’s sharp, severe, and sudden. Bleeding is another sign of an emergency, when it’s heavy and resists clotting. Cracked or broken teeth need emergency care to maximize chances for preservation. Dislodged teeth can often be replaced in  empty sockets. Trauma injuries can create several of these symptoms simultaneously. 

When is it not a dental emergency?

Losing a filling or a dental veneer can be upsetting and it may affect your appearance, but generally there’s pain connected with these. Similarly, a broken dental appliance might mean you’re without it while waiting for a replacement. This might interrupt a course of treatment, but it’s not a crisis. These types of dental issues can wait a day or two for assessment. There’s no need to upset your immediate schedule for emergency treatment. 

Emergency care guide

Recognizing a dental emergency isn’t the only thing you need to know. Even with prompt care, you must manage yourself (and perhaps your tooth) between the time of the incident and the time you reach our office. Consider these points for managing emergencies prior to professional care. 

Knocked out tooth

Handle the tooth only by the crown. Don’t touch the root. When possible, try to place the tooth back in the socket until you get to our office. If you can’t, place the tooth between your cheek and gum, or place the tooth in a small container of milk. Use a clean, cold and wet cloth pressed down on a socket to limit bleeding. 

Broken, chipped, or cracked teeth

Gently rinse your mouth with warm water. If there’s swelling present, use a cold compress or ice pack to minimize inflammation. 

Pain from infection

You’ll recognize an infection by its accompanying symptoms such as a sore throat or difficulty swallowing, swollen tissue near the site of pain, fever, or a sour taste in your mouth. Abscessed teeth often produce a red bump at the site.    


Use a clean, cold, and wet compress to hold back any dental bleeding issue between trauma and treatment. 

Call our office as soon as possible after a dental emergency. You can also request an appointment online with the booking link at the top of the page. Keep calm, follow our guide, and together, we’ll get through the emergency.