What is a Dental Emergency?

What is a dental emergency? Well, many situations are rather clear. For example, if your child has uncontrollable bleeding from the mouth, you want to see a dentist or go to the emergency room as soon as possible. During normal working hours, going to Ponte Vedra Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics office would be a great solution, since they may solve the emergency without the expense of an emergency room. 

If there is bleeding or a chance that something is broken, do not take NSAID pain medications, like aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen. These medications thin the blood and complicate medical care. On the other hand, Acetaminophen used correctly is safe. Do not give adult dosages to children! Read on to see what we constitute as a dental emergency. 


The following are examples of emergencies:

  • Infection: The gums start to swell and get painful. It may appear like there are bulges or knots on the gums.
  • Severe pain starts to develop around one of the two jaws. This is more than a momentary, sharp pain that comes once, then may not happen again for days.
  • One or more teeth get knocked out.
  • A tooth becomes loose, even if it is without pain. (This only applies to baby teeth that are not yet ready to fall out, and to permanent teeth.)
  • A tooth gets severely chipped, cracked, or fractured.


Any infection in the mouth that causes swelling must be immediately looked at, especially in the jaw and the gums. Jaw and gum infections, because they are in the head, could be life threatening. Get to Ponte Vedra Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics or the emergency room as soon as possible!


Pain in the jaw can several different causes. A cavity may be hitting a nerve. Gum disease could be a reason, which should be treated like an infection. Painful teeth can be damaged in ways not visibly obvious. Pain that requires immediate attention is intense and ongoing. Some types of pain may simply be warnings of future problems, but some kinds mean immediate medical attention is required. Do not chance it!

Teeth Knocked Out

Do not panic! It may be possible to save the tooth if proper precautions are taken. Take these few steps: 

  • Pick it up carefully, from the crown, not the root. Do not touch the root!
  • Gently rinse the tooth so it appears clean.
  • Try to put the tooth back into the socket and hold it there by biting on a paper towel or towel until you can either get to a dentist or to the emergency room.
  • If you cannot put the tooth back into its socket, put it into a clean container with milk and keep it cool.

Go see a dentist or to the emergency room as soon as possible.

Loose Tooth

Gently move the tooth to its proper alignment with very light pressure. Then go to see a dentist or to the emergency room as soon as possible. Remember that a loose tooth has somehow become disconnected to the jawbone, and somehow is barely connected to gums; therefore it should be considered an emergency.

Chipped, Cracked, or Fractured Teeth

The tooth may or may not be painful. But the fact that you are aware of the tooth’s problem means it may have experienced stress that may require emergency work to save it.

Non-Emergency Dental Situations

Teeth grinding, clenching, or opening the mouth too wide can be painful, but may require dental help. TMJ relates to the way the jaw is hinged to the skull. Sometimes that pain may seem terrible like a toothache.

Seeing Dr. Lindsay Maples or Dr. Michelle Thomas at Ponte Vedra Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics regularly can help avoid normal tooth issues. Those can include:

  • Prescribing and performing appropriate orthodontic work
  • Dealing with baby teeth, permanent teeth, and wisdom teeth issues
  • Preventing gum and tooth decay through:
    • Instruction about tooth care
    • Regular teeth cleaning
    • Checking overall health of the mouth

If you do not yet have a regular dentist, come see us! Ponte Vedra Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics has your reliable dental experts. Contact us today to get started!