What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?

If you’re experiencing a dental emergency, the last thing you want to do is sit in a crowded hospital ER. If your dentist provides emergency care, it’s highly preferable to get your problem attended to by someone who is already familiar with your mouth.

Dr. Padmaja Yalamanchili of Fairfax Family Dentist in Fairfax, Virginia, delivers emergency dental services,  as needed, to her patient base. Swift action can save a tooth!

Types of dental emergencies 

A lot can go wrong with your teeth, and a dental emergency is anything that requires immediate or near-immediate care. Not all emergencies are equally as pressing, but all of them need attention from a dentist as soon as possible. This might be immediately, the next day, or within the week or month. 

Here’s a brief list of common dental emergencies: 

Certain dental emergencies, like bent wires or lost fillings, can be handled at home until you can make it to the dentist. More serious accidents, such as knocked out or extruded teeth, need to be handled immediately. 

What you can do at home 

If you're experiencing a dental emergency of any kind, your first reaction might be to panic. Our teeth are part of our self-image and day-to-day life, and many people have a serious fear of losing or breaking teeth. That said, it’s important to stay calm, do what you can, and assess the situation with a clear head. 

As mentioned above, damaged teeth, abscesses, and severe toothaches are considered serious emergencies. However, some issues can be handled at home for the time being. 

Lost fillings and crowns 

If you’ve noticed that your filling or crown has come loose or fallen out, you will need a dentist’s help to fix it permanently. In the meantime, you can pack the empty filling with sugarless gum, or re-adhere the crown using dental cement. Do not use superglue of any kind inside your mouth. 


If you’re sure that the toothache is not caused by an infection or abscess, you can procrastinate a visit to the dentist by keeping your mouth clean, taking painkillers, and rinsing your mouth regularly. However, you should see your dentist as soon as possible. 

Foreign objects

If you’ve gotten food, popcorn, or some other foreign object caught in your teeth, don’t panic. Try to floss it out, or wait a little while to see if it loosens up. Never poke at your teeth with a sharp object. This will just cause swelling, and you might damage your gums in the process. 

Issues with braces or wires 

If a wire is poking out and scraping your mouth or gums, you can try to bend it back against your teeth using the rubber eraser on a pencil. Do not cut the wire or try to pull it out. If you’re having issues with the bands on your braces, use orthodontist wax to cement them in place until you can visit the dentist. 

When to visit the dentist immediately 

Damaged teeth, infections, and severe toothaches are considered pressing emergencies. Make sure to visit our office as soon as you can in these situations. Unchecked infection can spread to other parts of your body and endanger your health.

Suffering from a dental emergency? Want to be prepared? You can reach Dr. Padmaja Yalamanchili by calling 703-213-5313, or by visiting the contact page

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