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When Should You Call an Emergency Dentist?

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Emergency Dentist: How to Know It’s Time to Call

Chipped tooth? Extreme pain? How do you know when it’s time to call an emergency dentist? Here’s the list of which ailments can and absolutely can’t wait.

Whether it’s a chipped tooth, painful toothache, or a broken wire on your braces, dental problems don’t just happen during normal business hours. But how do you know if your dental issue can wait a day or two for an appointment or if a visit to an emergency dentist is necessary?

Read on to learn more about emergency dentists and when you need to see one.

Emergency dentist or hospital ER?

An emergency dentist is usually preferable to a hospital energency room for anything tooth-related. Hospital doctors are not oral specialists, and hospitals are not equipped to handle most dental issues.

That being said, if you have a fracture or dislocation of the jaw, severe cuts or bleeding anywhere inside your mouth, or an abcess so swollen that it is impacting your breathing, a hospital ER is appropriate.

After ruling out a trip to the hospital, you are likely wondering:

“Where can I find an emergency dentist or othodontist near me that can fix this – and fast?”

If you live in or near Covina, emergency dentists at Manalese Dental are available for you around the clock.

How to tell when it’s a dental emergency

Let’s take a look at what constitutes a dental emergency and what can wait for an office-hours visit.


A toothache is never pleasant to deal with, but unless the pain is severe, it can probably wait until an appointment.

Toothaches are frequently caused by tooth decay or gum disease. Other causes can include a cracked or broken tooth, inflammation of a nerve or infection of the “pulp” at the center of a tooth. Even pressure from a sinus infection can cause tooth pain.

In the meantime, rinse with warm water and use floss to remove anything stuck between the teeth. You can take an over-the-counter pain reliever or apply a cold compress to the affected area (outside the mouth, of course) if you need to.

Severe tooth pain

Severe tooth pain should never be ignored. It can be indicative of a much bigger problem, such as an abscess.

An abscess is an infection at the root of the tooth or in between the tooth and gum. The surrounding teeth and gums can become badly damaged by this. Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills. Left untreated, the infection can spread into the bloodstream and throughout the body, which can be life-threatening.

The first sign of an abscess is a purple, painful, pimple-like bump forming on the gum. If you notice this happening, make an appointment right away. If caught quickly, the abscess can be treated before it becomes dangerous.

Chipped tooth

A chipped tooth doesn’t always need immediate attention unless a large piece of tooth is missing. A dentist may repair a minor chip by polishing and smoothing out the area.

Cracked or broken tooth

A cracked or broken tooth is more serious and a trip to an emergency dentist is in order. Breaks can be caused by cavities, injuries (sports-related and otherwise), or biting down on food, ice, or any object that is too hard. Be sure to bring any broken pieces with you to the dentist.

Extruded tooth

A partially dislodged or “extruded” tooth also counts as a dental emergency. You can use a cold compress on the exterior of your mouth for immediate relief of pain.

Object stuck in teeth

Extracting anything from between your teeth should always be done with floss. Never use anything sharp or pointy!

If you are unsuccessful with floss, you may need the help of an orthodontist. This can probably wait until business hours. But if you are experiencing a lot of pain then it’s worth checking in with an emergency dentist.

Lost filling

A lost filling can usually wait until office hours. In the meantime, you can use an over-the-counter filling cement or even a piece of sugar-free gum to fill the space. Do not use gum that contains sugar, as it contributes to tooth decay and can be painful.

Lost crown

Like fillings, lost crowns generally can wait for an appointment. Keep the crown and bring it in with you. You can try using over-the-counter dental cement or even toothpaste to hold it in place. Do not attempt to glue it!

If it’s painful, swabbing on some clove oil can help. If the pain is extreme, see an emergency dentist.

Broken wire on braces

Issues with braces can usually be put off until office hours. If a wire is protruding, you may be able to move it temporarily back into position with the eraser end of a pencil. You can cap any pointy wires sticking out with some gauze.

Soft tissue broken

If you’ve bit or cut the inside of your mouth (tongue, cheek, lip, or gums) you might not have to see an emergency dentist. Rinse with salt water and apply pressure with some moistened gauze to the wound to encourage bleeding to stop.

If the bleeding won’t stop, your pain is severe, or the wound is very large, then a visit to the emergency dentist is in order.

Knocked out tooth

If your tooth falls out, it is very important to get to an emergency dentist right away. If you can get to the dentist within an hour of the injury you have the best chance of your tooth recovering.

Try replacing the tooth into its socket if you can (make sure it’s facing the right way!). It will hold up better inside your mouth.

You must keep the tooth moist until you get to the dentist. Hold the tooth by the crown (the part that is visible when it’s inside your mouth) and rinse off any dirt. Do not scrub the tooth or remove any tissue attached to it.

Place the tooth in a cup of milk or saliva (a cup of water with a little salt will do in a pinch), and bring it to an emergency dentist immediately.

If the tooth cannot be salvaged, dental implants may be necessary.

Where should I go for emergency dental care in Covina?

When your teeth need care, from emergencies to routine cleanings to implant orthodontics, contact Manalese Dental.

Dr. Joel Manalese, D.D.S. is dedicated to being the best dentist in Covina. He and his team of skilled professionals will keep your smile looking great – no matter what happens!