What to Look For in an Emergency Dentist

A girl having dental emergency

It’s important for you to have an emergency dentist on hand for direct access to immediate professional treatment in urgent situations. This will give you the best chance of complete recovery from dental injuries or severe infections.

Dental emergencies are rare but if one happens you don’t want to be wasting time searching for emergency treatment providers or asking around friends for recommendations, while your condition worsens.

The WebMD1 health information resource stresses the potentially serious consequences of failing to get treatment in a dental emergency, which, it says, can increase the risk of permanent damage.

Many people in a dental crisis end up in an emergency room, which is not your best option in the event of trauma to your mouth.

Emergency rooms are well equipped to handle general medical cases but do not have the tools or expertise of dentists to handle an urgent dental situation. Nevertheless, if you’ve sustained an injury to your head or neck as well as dental trauma, you should go to the emergency room first.

Finding an emergency dentist2 is more complicated than simply making a bee-line for your nearest emergency room. So it’s advisable to avoid a mistake that many people make: waiting until a dental predicament occurs before looking for an emergency dentist.

Doing a little research before a dental calamity develops will enable you to have an emergency dentist in place when you need one. If you wait until you’re in the midst of a dental crisis, the problem of finding the best emergency dentist is likely to be compounded by the fact that you’re in pain and on the verge of panic.

But what should you look for in an emergency dentist? Well, there are several factors to consider.

Check Out Your Regular Dentist

The first – and most obvious – place to start looking for an emergency dentist is the practice you go to for general dental healthcare.

The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA)3 says the best person to deal with a dental crisis is your regular dentist. However, your dental office may not be able to handle urgent situations, especially out of normal hours.

Ask your dentist whether they can take care of you in an emergency. If you’re satisfied they can, you’re home and dry. If not, you need to continue looking.

Get Recommendations for an Emergency Dentist

If your general dentist does not provide emergency treatment, ask them whether they can recommend one who does.

Online reviews of emergency dentists in your area is another avenue you can explore. If your internet research turns up a few names, check out the practices’ websites to get an insight into how they handle emergencies.

You can also seek recommendations from family and friends, neighbors and work colleagues.

Look for a Local Emergency Dentist

In a dental emergency, you don’t want to be faced with a long drive to get urgent treatment.

Try to locate an emergency dentist within 20 or 30 minutes from home or work. Having to travel many miles to an emergency dentist is likely to increase your levels of stress and anxiety as your condition deteriorates.

Another consideration to keep in mind is that the best chance of saving a tooth that’s been knocked out is if it’s put back in by a dentist within one hour.

What About Follow-up Treatment?

Find out what non-emergency services are offered by an emergency dentist you’re considering. Whatever your dental emergency, it’s highly probable you’ll need follow-up treatment for an effective, long-lasting solution.

It can be beneficial if your emergency dentist can also perform post-emergency procedures. They will already have an insight into your problem, having checked you over and possibly taken X-rays in the first place.

For instance, if you’ve damaged a tooth to the extent that it’s beyond repair, it will have to be extracted, leaving a gap. If your emergency dentist is also a specialist in providing dentures or dental implants, you won’t have to look elsewhere to get your dental work completed.

Find an Emergency Dentist Who Can Deal With Severe Infections

It’s not just physical trauma that can result in a dental crisis.

An abscess resulting from inflammation of a tooth or the gums can be life-threatening. The infection can travel to other parts of your body, including vital organs such as the brain, heart, and lungs.

In cases like this, an emergency dentist experienced in treating infections may be your best bet. Emergency treatment for infection of tooth pulp (periapical abscess) may require the first stage of a root canal. If an infection of the gum has progressed to a periodontal abscess, you may want an emergency dentist familiar with dealing with gum disease.

Choose an Emergency Dentist Who Can Treat Multiple Problems

Ideally, your emergency dentist should be able to treat any dental problem that requires urgent attention to:

  • Staunch heavy bleeding.
  • Save a tooth.
  • Ease acute pain.

A good emergency dentist will also be experienced in handling soft tissue injuries such as damage to the gums, lips, cheeks or tongue.

Your emergency dentist should be capable of treating a wide range of urgent cases, including:

  • Severe toothache.
  • A knocked-out tooth.
  • Broken tooth.
  • Injuries to the tongue.
  • Severe infection in the mouth.

Signs that you may need treatment from an emergency dentist include:

  • Loose teeth.
  • Severe pain.
  • Trauma to the mouth or face.
  • Severe facial swelling.

Making a Dental Emergency Less of an Ordeal

If you’re confronted with a dental crisis, getting the urgent treatment you need will be much more straightforward if you already have an emergency dentist you know you can turn to. Hopefully, our tips on what to look for in an emergency dentist will help to lessen the impact of a dental emergency should the situation arise.

If you have dental insurance, ask your provider for a list of dentists in your area who accept their plan for emergency treatments. Alternatively, if you have CareCredit, look for an emergency dentist who takes this healthcare credit card, which you can use for repairs to your teeth.

Without prompt professional treatment in cases of injury to the teeth or gums, you’re likely to need more extensive and expensive treatment later.


  1. https://www.webmd.com/
  2. https://www.sanforddentalexcellence.com/Emergency-Dental-Care
  3. https://jada.ada.org/

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