Common Signs You Need Emergency Dental Treatment

Updated: Jan 31

Do you have a painful toothache? Dental problems can come in a range of shapes, sizes, and severity of pain. Often it can be difficult to tell whether you need emergency dental treatment, a tooth filling or whether an over-the-counter medicine will solve the issue until normal dentist hours. Problems such as loose teeth, bleeding gums, a swollen jaw, dental abscess, a metallic taste in your mouth, or numbness are not normal and require the attention of a dental professional.

Getting dental treatment is the best way to get immediate pain relief and proper oral health care. Even if you are someone who makes regular trips to the dental hygienist,  and consider yourself to have excellent oral health, it is important to know what requires immediate attention to prevent yourself from suffering more serious complications, which will ultimately cost you more money later.

Below is an overview of the most common signs that you need emergency dental treatment.

Severe toothache

The most obvious sign that you need emergency dental treatment is a severe toothache. The severity of toothache varies but if it's unbearable, and can’t be treated by taking over-the-counter painkillers, then you should consider going to see a dentist. A severe toothache could be caused by a number of factors:  it could be due to a crack in the enamel or an exposed nerve. Either way living with an excruciating toothache is not sustainable so it's probably time you sorted out some dental treatment.

Loose teeth

A loose tooth or teeth should get alarm bells ringing. As an adult, your teeth have matured and should be strong, and fixed in place. You should never experience loose teeth. It can be a very painful experience and often stems from an injury. Whether the injury was from an accident or sport you will want to get dental treatment as soon as possible to ensure that your teeth remain intact. Book an emergency dental appointment as you may need a tooth filling and you should also get checked out for any nerve or jaw damage.

Painful and bleeding gums

Many people experience bleeding gums after they brush or floss and while it’s easy to dismiss this as nothing to worry about, it can actually indicate early signs of gingivitis. This is a common form of gum disease or periodontal disease that causes irritation, redness, and swelling of the gingiva, the part of your gum around the base of your teeth. It is very important to take gingivitis seriously and treat it promptly. Book a dental treatment immediately, especially if the bleeding and/or pain is severe and accompanied by swelling.

Catching gum disease early is really important for preventing more serious complications so keeping on top of your oral health is key to keeping your gums and teeth in one piece. Gum disease occurs in stages and treatment will depend on what stage you are at so speak to a dental hygienist as soon as you experience any bleeding or pain symptoms.

Swollen jaw

If you have a swollen jaw then it's likely you need dental treatment straight away. A swollen jaw can be an indication of a very serious infection and needs to be seen by a dentist before it gets any worse. Often, a swollen jaw is caused by a blockage in the salivary glands which prevents the proper breakdown of food and removes harmful bacteria from the mouth and throat. This bacteria can cause infection in the mouth and jaw area ultimately leading to swelling. Alongside a swollen jaw, other symptoms that you may experience are fever, trouble breathing, painful swallowing, and a bad taste in the mouth. If you experience any combination of these symptoms, you should seek dental treatment immediately.

Lesions or sores in the mouth

If you have any cuts, sores, lesions, or cankers in your mouth that have not healed within two weeks are something to be concerned about. The mouth tends to heal quickly and so anything that is not healing is not normal. If a sore in your mouth is unable to get better then it is likely that it has become infected. You should get in touch with your dentist straight away for emergency dental treatment to get the problem assessed and fixed.

Dental abscess

A dental abscess will require immediate dental treatment. An abscessed tooth is extremely painful because it affects the root of the tooth. Most of the time it is caused by a cavity that is left untreated or severe untreated gum disease. Other causes include trauma or injury. Symptoms include fever, trouble breathing, painful swallowing, a bad taste in the mouth, and pus. It is a serious problem and will require complete draining as well as dental treatment that may include surgery.

Numb teeth or mouth

Another very alarming experience can be numbness in the teeth or mouth. If you have been experiencing a very severe and painful toothache that suddenly leaves you feeling nothing at all, it could mean that the infection has spread to the root of your tooth. Numbness in the teeth or the mouth is never a good sign unless it's a deliberate result of anesthetization. If you are experiencing numbness following toothache then you will probably need a root canal treatment and you should book emergency dental care as soon as you possibly can.

Metallic taste in mouth

If your mouth starts to taste like metal the chances are that you may need your tooth filling looked at. A metallic taste in the mouth can be a sign that your old tooth filling has become loose or cracked into your mouth. If you have discovered that this has happened then it is important that you get dental treatment secured immediately as a cracked tooth filling can mean an open cavity. If you have an open cavity in your tooth you run the risk of fresh infections and potential pain. At your dental appointment, your dentist will clean out the cavity, remove any bacteria and give you a brand-new tooth filling.

Broken braces

Do you have braces? If you do, you will know how uncomfortable it is if any part of the brace becomes loose. If a wire breaks or sticks out of the bracket, it can uncomfortably poke your tongue, cheek, or gums. You may feel that you are able to fix the problem at home by pushing the wire back into a comfortable position or covering sharp edges with wax. However, it is always best to seek emergency dental treatment. Loose or broken wires could damage your gums or teeth and cause infection. You are also at risk of swallowing a sharp piece of wire or getting some debris stuck in your throat while you are sleeping.

Lost crown

Sometimes the crown of your tooth can fall off. If this happens you should arrange emergency dental treatment. Remember to keep the crown with you so that it can be reapplied. A lost crown is likely to be very painful and you may want to take ibuprofen or apply clove oil using a cotton swab to numb the pain. A temporary fix that you can use while waiting for your dental treatment can be to use an over-the-counter dental cement or adhesive, but although it's tempting, do not ever use super glue to achieve this!

Now that you know which situations require emergency dental treatment, you can pay better attention to what is going on in your mouth and hopefully avoid ending up in a painful scenario. Regular trips to the dental hygienist will help you to ensure good oral health and ideally avoid emergency dental treatment. However, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is a good idea to get in touch with a reputable dental practice for a check-up.

Looking for emergency dental treatment?

Do you have a severe toothache, bleeding gums, or a swollen jaw? Or perhaps you have lost a tooth in a sports injury or broken a brace? Maybe you have some concerns over your oral health and would like a consultation? Whatever the problem, if you think you have an emergency and need dental treatment in Liverpool then you should contact Dr Rez Dental straight away.

Dr Rez Dental is Liverpool’s Leading Dentist and has recently moved to a state-of-the-art, purpose-built surgery on Dale Street in Liverpool’s business quarter. Working alongside the UK’s brightest and best practitioners, we provide a range of services from seeing the dental hygienist to tooth filling and crowded teeth treatment. Start your journey towards a new, improved smile with an initial Smile Consultation, and contact us today.

Been a Dr. Rez patient for around 4 years now. From initially needing a lot of work done to now just regular check ups and cleaning. I can confidently say it's been one of my best decisions. From being a very nervous patient to now quite enjoying my appointment (relatively anyway ha). Currently my therapist is Lilly, very ably assisted by Mel and they couldn't be more encouraging, thoughtful and nice. I get great advice and couldn't feel better looked after. Couldn't recommend more.