How Do I Know If I'm Having a Dental Emergency?

There’s no standard answer to what defines a dental emergency. Sometimes, it may be obvious, such as when you’ve suffered an impact injury that results in one or more teeth damaged, loose, or knocked out. Another injury could be classed an emergency when severe pain starts suddenly and for reasons unknown to you.

Prompt care can prevent a bigger issue later, and many people aren’t aware that we can often save a tooth that’s knocked out if it’s not otherwise damaged. Sometimes, only you can define what’s an emergency for you. 

At the Charlotte Root Canal Center, Ramesh K. Sunar, DMD, is an endodontist specializing in emergency dental services. Make us your first call when a dental emergency arises.

Dental symptoms that may be emergencies

Virtually any dental problem can be an emergency if it’s extensive, severe, or painful. Likewise, any of these problems can be urgent rather than an emergency, or even simply priority issues. But it’s usually best for your dental health to err on the side of caution. Prolonging treatment, at any level, may lead to more pain or greater expense.

Dental problems can be grouped into several classes. These are:

What to do for dental problems

Contacting us at Charlotte Root Canal Center should be one of your first responses to a sudden dental issue, but since your crisis may not occur during office hours, here are some steps you can take to minimize pain and prevent further damage.

Knocked-out teeth

Recover the tooth and keep it moist. Rinse it with water first, if it’s dirty, but avoid handling it by the root. Don’t scrub it or remove attached tissue. You can place it between your cheek and gums if emergency care is readily available. Otherwise, place the tooth in a small container with milk to cover it or a tooth preservation product like Save-A-Tooth.

Chipped and broken teeth

Save the pieces if you can find them and treat those using the same methods as for knocked-out teeth, except for trying to preserve small chips between your cheek and gums. If tooth damage is accompanied by pain and swelling, cold compresses may help as you wait for dental care.


Rinse your mouth with warm water and use dental floss to remove any food that may be wedged between teeth, causing the ache. Don’t put aspirin or other painkillers directly against your gums to relieve pain. Many of these are acids that are strong enough to burn your gums.


Caused by infections near the root of a tooth, abscesses are potentially quite serious, since the infection can spread to other parts of your body. An abscess is typically accompanied by a pimple-sized bump. Rinse your mouth with mild saltwater solutions while awaiting dental care.

The dental professionals at Charlotte Root Canal Center understand that accidents never occur at convenient times. They also know that a dental emergency false alarm is better than ignoring a problem that develops into a life-threatening condition. Contact our office by phone or online the minute you suspect a dental emergency has occurred. 

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