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What is a dental emergency?

A dental emergency is any situation that poses an immediate threat to your overall health, your teeth, and supporting tissues. Dental emergencies are often the result of impact (trauma) to the mouth and face, but they also can be caused by infection. The first symptom is usually pain, sometimes swelling. All dental and oral-facial emergencies should be evaluated by an Oral and Maxillofacial or Periodontal specialist promptly to ensure the best possible outcome.

How soon should I be seen?

If you are experiencing oral, facial, or dental pain, facial swelling, we recommend you contact us as soon as possible. If your emergency does not need our surgical expertise, we will recommend treatment by a general dentist. He or she will be able to advise you if the tooth/teeth are savable and what treatment options they are to save your dentition (if savable). We will offer same-day emergency services for most conditions.

Please contact us at 253-564-1000 for patients seen in our Tacoma office.
Please contact us at 253-857-1000 for patients seen in our Gig Harbor office.
Please contact us at 253-564-1000 for patients seen in our Vashon office.

What to do if a tooth is knocked out (avulsed):

For permanent teeth that are knocked out, rinse the tooth and put it back in the socket. If you can’t get the tooth back in the socket, place it in a container of milk, water, or saliva to keep it moist. Do not touch the roots (handle the tooth by the crown), and don’t brush the tooth. Contact us IMMEDIATELY for information and emergency treatment – the sooner you get to us, the more likely your tooth can be saved!

For baby teeth that are unexpectedly knocked out, leave them out and contact the child’s dentist immediately for instructions.

Other Emergency Dental Situations:

  • Substantial Toothache
  • Significant Sensitivity
  • Swollen or Sore Gums
  • Jaw Pain
  • Infection
  • Broken, Cracked and Chipped Teeth that causes considerable pain
  • Broken jaw

Pain Management:

Here is a list of effective home remedies to make you more comfortable while you wait for care:

  • Warm water rinses for sore teeth and gums.
  • Over the counter pain medication such as non-steroidal analgesics (ibuprofen) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  • Ice packs applied to the outside of cheeks.
  • Dental anesthetics containing benzocaine may be used as directed on the package for pain.
  • Avoid overly hot and cold beverages and foods to reduce sensitivity.
  • Heating pads may be used for jaw pain.
  • Avoid chewing in the injured area.
  • If a broken tooth has a sharp edge, cotton can be placed over it to protect soft tissues in your mouth.

Pain-Free Emergencies:

Some dental emergencies may not cause pain initially. For example, a cracked tooth may not hurt, but it may lead to nerve damage in the roots. For this reason, all of the listed conditions need immediate attention, whether or not pain is present.

We are here to help! Please contact us if you have any dental emergency or dental pain.