How to find an emergency dentist near you? And what actually is a dental emergency?

Matthew Stewart

Written by Matthew Stewart DDS, Greg Grobmyer DDS, Eric Moryoussef DDS, Peter Dégallier RDH, Jack Lawrence DMD

An emergency dentist is a dental professional you go to see when anything sudden happens to your mouth. They most commonly offer treatment to walk-ins and someone is on call 24/7.

Waiting until the next day might not be an option. Make sure you are aware of where the nearest emergency dentist is, so you know where to go if need be.

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Emergency dentists vs. dental specialists

What is a dental emergency?

Matthew Stewart

Matthew Stewart, DDS

A large majority of dental emergencies are due to tooth decay, periodontitis, and infection.

Knowing about first aid or where to go for help if something happens can protect your health. For your own good, you should be able to differentiate between issues that are dangerous and those that are simply unexpected. The latter can safely wait until your next scheduled appointment.

Here is a comprehensive guide about the most common dental emergencies you might have to deal with.


The category of immediate dental emergency compiles cases that need fast action. This usually means you have about an hour.

Immediate emergencies often involve intense pain. There are a few things you can do from home. But this may not be enough.

You should seek medical help as soon as possible. Not acting might mean losing a tooth, serious damage to your health, or even danger to your life.


Urgent emergencies should be treated within a few hours. The situations described below are contingent upon the risk of getting a serious infection.

You can often control damage or manage pain using at-home solutions and methods. Bearing long-term effects of emergencies, professional help is still necessary.


Traditional metal and ceramic braces can sometimes behave unexpectedly. The biggest concerns in terms of an emergency are wires that have snapped or become loose, and ones that need to be clipped. Other cases include protruding and poking wires.

What to do?

  • If your wire has become loose or if it snapped, contact your orthodontist. You will probably need to make an emergency visit to the office.
  • In the case that a wire has slipped out of the bracket and is irritating your gum or cheek, snap the sharp end off with nail clippers or place a cotton swab or orthodontic wax between the metal and tissue.
  • If the main problem is that wires are irritating your gums or cheek, you can use dental wax to make edges less sharp. It can be removed in an emergency room if it is causing you serious discomfort.
  • Mouth sores caused by such issues can be treated with numbing gel, such as Orasol.

Emergency visit: Call your orthodontist and schedule the appointment. During the visit your wires will be adjusted or replaced as necessary.

Dentures need to be relined once in a while, but if it is causing you discomfort it is a good idea to contact your dentist. This is especially true if you are undergoing chemotherapy. An ill-fitting denture can lead to an infection or even oral cancer.

What to do?

  • Remove your denture and rinse your mouth with chlorhexidine mouthwash if available, otherwise use a salt water rinse.
  • If your gums are inflamed, don’t wear your denture for at least 24 hours. You might have to keep a liquid diet.

Emergency visit: Call your dentist and discuss your problem. Something might be simply trapped in your denture and lead to inflammation. After your gums heal you might be able to wear it again. Your dentist will instruct you on whether you need to make an office visit for an adjustment, a reline, or a new denture fitting.

Non-emergency dental issues

Avoid dental emergencies

Prevention is always the best measure, especially when it comes to your health. You should take care of your mouth, just as you would with any other body part.

  • To prevent physical injuries, avoid physical activity without a mouthguard.
  • Do not use your teeth as tools. They are not meant to serve as bottle or can openers, or to pierce through tape.
  • Keep up with regular checkups and cleanings. Prevention is always cheaper than emergency treatment, especially if you find a budget-friendly dentist in your area.
  • Make sure to care for your hygiene. Brush your teeth after each meal and floss at least once a day to prevent swelling and caries. Using a mouth rinse following brushing/flossing is also beneficial.


This depends on how severe your injury or issue is. For instance, infections or knocked-out teeth should be treated immediately. On the other hand, moderate tooth pain can wait until the next day.

Yes. The whole idea of an emergency dentist is that patients can go when something sudden happens. It’s a good idea to call ahead to make sure the office will have the time and resources to treat you, and to give them a chance to prepare for your arrival.

Yes, you can. In less urgent cases, you will receive no more than a temporary solution there. This is usually just an antibiotics or painkillers prescription. Nevertheless, it is still the best option in case of serious emergencies, like a broken jaw or infection complication.

Emergency visits at the dental office are typically charged as normal. This means that whether you need an extraction, a root canal, or an X-ray, you will pay as much as you would at a regular dental appointment. Visiting an ER for problems focusing on teeth and gums, on the other hand, can be excessively expensive. You are better off going to a dentist. They will provide specialist care at a smaller fee.

Yes. The walk-in dentist will charge you as they would normally. If, however, you are insured, your plan is likely to cover the fees in accordance with your rates.

Emergency dentists are open on Saturday and Sunday, 24/7. The goal is to provide care to those who need it in urgent situations, which can happen at any time. Patients will usually aim to visit their regular doctor during working days, but weekend dentists are also available to provide emergency services.