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What is Considered Dental Emergency?

What is Considered Dental Emergency?

What constitutes a dental emergency? How can you know whether you need to see our Kearny Mesa dentist the same day, or if it can wait until the next? Understanding what is considered a dental emergency will give you peace of mind and help you protect your smile, regardless of how bad the situation may seem.

What to Do in Case of a Dental Emergency

First things first, if you’re experiencing what you believe to be a dental emergency, contact our Kearny Mesa dentist immediately. Landmark Dental Arts will always help answer any questions that you have and let you know whether or not we need to see you immediately. Otherwise, we can talk you through what to do until you make your way to our office.

What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?

Technically speaking, what is considered a dental emergency? Any of the following:

You’re in Pain—Toothaches can be extremely unbearable, even to the point where over-the-counter medications don’t help. And you shouldn’t visit a hospital for a toothache because they aren’t equipped to manage dental infections.

The best thing to do is call our office and have us plan for your arrival. In the meantime, take an anti-inflammatory (like Motrin or ibuprofen) and apply a cool compress to that side of your face, if possible. Rinsing with warm saltwater can also help.

It’s normal for toothaches to come and go, so don’t assume that you’re “in the clear” when symptoms gradually improve. It’s best to go ahead and get ahead of them before your pain pops back up again. Because these emergencies always seem to happen when you’re out of town or the office is closed!

You Can’t Go to Work (or School)—Whether you’re in pain or simply embarrassed because a front tooth is severely chipped, you probably don’t want to go out in public. In these scenarios, it constitutes as a dental emergency. Along those lines, if the situation is preventing you from being able to eat or drink comfortably, you’ll also need to get immediate attention. Depending on what your schedule is like and the severity of your situation, the visit can possibly wait until the next day. Just contact our office at your earliest convenience and we’ll discuss the matter with you. If you’re calling after hours, be sure to leave a detailed message with a call-back number.

A Tooth Fell Out or Broke Off—Whenever a tooth breaks off or gets knocked out, you typically need to see us within the next hour (or two, at most.) Fast action is crucial to saving your tooth. In the meantime, store your tooth or broken tooth fragment in a sealed container so that you don’t lose it. To keep it moist, cover it with milk, saline, contact solution, or tap water with a pinch of salt. If your tooth is completely whole, try to place it back into the socket if possible, just don’t force it. From there, you can bite on a tissue or clean cloth to keep gentle pressure on it. The goal is to see us within 1-2 hours so that we can re-attach or re-insert anything while the window of time still allows us to do so.

If a restoration like a crown or bridge fell off, be sure to bring that with you. Keep it in a zip-top bag so that you don’t accidentally lose it. If it’s a filling, it’s not as important to find it.

There’s Facial Swelling or Bleeding You Can’t Control—Swollen areas that look like abscesses or any type of facial swelling should not be ignored. If the swelling is spreading throughout your face, or there’s uncontrollable bleeding, it’s best to head straight to your nearest emergency room. Smaller areas of swelling can be treated in our dental office.

Abscessed teeth typically cause smaller, pimple-like swellings on your gums next to your tooth. But on occasion, that swelling can spread the width of several teeth.

Call Landmark Dental Arts

Not sure what to do in case of dental emergency? Call Landmark Dental Arts today. We’ll be happy to help you as quickly as possible.


Landmark Dental Arts
4540 Kearny Villa Road, Suite 116
San Diego, CA 92123
Phone: 858-571-3534
Fax: (858) 571-5826

Monday By Appointment Only
Tuesday 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Wednesday 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Thursday 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Friday By Appointment Only
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed