Your teeth are a vital part of your body, and they provide many important functions. They help you chew your food, speak clearly, and smile confidently. However, dental problems don’t always happen when you want them to and you may find yourself in a situation that requires emergency care.

A knocked out tooth, severe pain that won’t go away or bleeding from the mouth are just a few examples of situations that might require emergency dental services. Dental emergencies are never expected and they can be very scary. But if you know what to look out for and how to handle them properly, they can be less stressful.

Generally speaking, the most common dental emergencies involve trauma or severe pain that cannot be resolved by home treatment. Other cases, such as a lost filling or broken veneers, might be a nuisance but are not considered emergencies and can be addressed at a later time.

Regardless of the type of dental problem, it is always better to act quickly in an emergency situation. The longer a dental issue is left untreated, the more serious it can be.

Dental problems that are considered to be medical emergencies usually result in disturbances of normal physiology and must be evaluated as a differential diagnosis. These include medical emergencies of a dental nature, such as syncope and hyperventilation, that occur during and after local anesthesia.

These emergencies are not only caused by a change in blood pressure, but also a lack of oxygen to the brain and heart. This is why it is imperative that all dentists are trained in basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Other medical emergencies encountered in the dental office include post-procedural bleeding, particularly when patients have congenital or systemic diseases that affect hemostasis or are taking anticoagulation medications. Failure to recognize and treat this dental emergency can lead to a large intraoral hematoma with serious complications, including compromise of the airway in some instances.

Other common dental emergencies are infections of the periocular and periodontal tissues that require urgent attention. These include irreversible pulpitis, apical and periodontal abscesses and pericoronitis. These are characterized by severe pain and swelling and must be treated promptly in order to avoid progression of the infection to the more life-threatening complications, such as disseminated odontogenic osteomyelitis.