When to Call the Dentist

Symptom Status Action
Dull, continuous ache Non-Emergency Schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience.
Broken, loose, lost filling Non-Emergency Schedule an appointment to have the filling replaced.
Throbbing pain Urgent Pain may be relieved by using an analgesic (painkiller). Schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
Broken tooth Emergency Depending on the severity of the fracture it could cause an infection which is much more difficult to treat.
Sudden, severe discomfort, accompanied by swelling Possible Emergency Apply a cold compress and see your dentist immediately.
Sensitivity to cold Non-Emergency Your tooth could be sensitive for a number of reasons. Never apply aspirin or heat to the tooth. Contact the dentist and arrange an appointment as soon as possible.
Sensitivity to heat Urgent Sensitivity to heat can indicate that an infection is present. See your dentist as soon as possible. If swelling and/or fever are present, consider it to be an emergency. An abscess could be forming.
Swollen gums Possible Emergency This may indicate an infection in the gums or a tooth. Schedule an appointment to examine the area.
Abscessed tooth Emergency An abscess is a localized pus formation usually located at the root end of the tooth. If the condition is acute and there is infection present the dentist will likely prescribe antibiotics and analgesics before attempting to perform root canal therapy.
Lost, loose crown (cap) Non-Emergency Schedule an appointment to have the crown re-cemented if possible.
Knocked out tooth Emergency Control the bleeding by applying direct pressure with a cold compress. Do not remove or be alarmed, as there may be extensive bleeding. Transport the tooth wrapped in a wet cloth or a glass of milk. Do not rinse the tooth.
Extruded Tooth (a tooth that is thrust out of normal position but remains attached) Emergency Don't try to force the tooth back onto its socket. Gently reposition the tooth to its normal alignment. Hold the tooth in place with gauze or a tissue. You must see a dentist immediately.
Facial fracture Emergency Make sure the airway is open and transport the victim to medical aid as quickly as possible, either a hospital emergency room or call 911.
Broken braces and wires Urgent If the broken appliance can be removed easily, take it out carefully. If not, cover the sharp or protruding portion with gauze, cotton balls or even chewing gum. Do not remove this and see your dentist immediately.
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