What is considered a dental emergency?

Dental emergencies can often happen at inconvenient times and when you least expect it. If you’ve had an accident or experiencing a sudden problem with your mouth or teeth, emergency dental treatment may help to limit the severity of your problem and get you much needed pain relief. At Blackburn Family Dental Care, we’re a local, experienced and trusted Dental Practice that has been servicing Blackburn and neighbouring suburbs for decades. If you require emergency dental treatment, we are here to help.

To determine if emergency dental care is required or if you need to take a trip to the hospital, here is a list of questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you experiencing sensitivity? Or sharp stabbing or dull throbbing type pain? Severe pain?
  • Is there swelling or pain in your gums, face or neck?
  • Are you an adult experiencing loose teeth, or feel fragments of your tooth and/or filling moving?
  • If you are an adult and have lost a tooth? Receiving immediate treatment can potentially save your tooth.
  • Have you had a recent trauma? Or accident?

If your answer is ‘yes’ to any of the questions above, you may be experiencing a dental emergency. Dental emergencies may vary in severity, but most emergencies can be treated at the dental clinic. In a lot of cases time is of the essence, and the earlier you can be seen, the better. Here at Blackburn Family Dental Care, we will try to slot you in as soon as possible.

If the emergency involves swelling that has spread near the eye or has caused major neck swelling and/or compromising breathing, then its best to go to the hospital immediately.

What are some of the signs that might indicate emergency dental treatment is indicated?

Time is of the essence in certain emergencies, as sometimes leaving situations for longer may compromise the tooth further. 6 signs that you should make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.  

  • Bleeding and soreness in the gums

Sometimes when the teeth and gums are not cleaned effectively, the bacteria left in the plaque can cause an inflammatory response. This often presents as redness, swelling, pain, heat, bad breath and sometimes pus expression. The first observations of this happening could be when blood or suppuration is present during brushing. Sometimes localised swelling can occur and may be a sign of something more serious. Symptoms as described are all symptoms of gum disease or periodontal disease. These diseases need to be treated as soon as possible, to minimise chances of tooth and/or bone loss. 

  • Fractured teeth

If your teeth have cracked or fractured, time is of the essence. Sometimes the deeper layers of the teeth (also called dentine) may be exposed and resulting sensitivity can occur. In the worst case scenario, bacteria or further irritation of these deeper tissues can lead to a situation where the pain may get worse. It is advisable to cover these vulnerable tooth layers (dentine) as soon as possible to avoid pulpal involvement (the pulp consists of the blood and nerve supply of the tooth). In cases where the tooth fracture is severe, the nerves can be exposed to the rest of your mouth leading to extreme pain or irritation of the pulp. If you are not experiencing any pain despite having cracked your teeth, it will still be best to seek emergency care as only your dentist will be able to assess the damage and advise accordingly. 

  • Loose teeth

If there is sudden movement in any particular tooth, due to trauma or even if no recorded trauma is present, it is best to see a dental professional to ascertain the cause of the loose teeth. Loose teeth can be caused by ongoing periodontal disease, acute trauma, other complications of the roots such as resorption.

Sports injuries and injuries sustained from accidental falling are leading cause of loose teeth. Time is once again important, with a better prognosis if seen earlier. Your dentist will be able to conduct an examination to diagnose the extent of your injury and to provide the dental care required. 

  • Toothache 

Any sort of pain or toothache in the nerve of an affected tooth will ring alarm bells. Irritation can be from a myriad of sources such as decay; fractures; gum issues; pain from pathology in the jaws; referred pain from elsewhere. However, it should not be ignored or considered an issue that does not require care or attention. A severe or recurring toothache may slowly subside and in some cases cease but if not looked at there could be underlying issues still present in the tooth. It is best that if you have had a history of toothache to mention this to your dentist.

  • Headaches

Headaches can sometimes be a sign of an underlying dental issue. Especially if there is a known or perceived toothache issue on the same side. Referred pain from a tooth can sometimes be felt in a different part of the face or body.

  • Swollen Jaws

Swollen jaws or glands are usually attributed to an infection on the gums. Common accompanying symptoms include the inability to open your mouth with or without pain, or and in some cases bad breath. Seeking help from an experienced dentist in such cases is recommended.

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, it is important to ensure that proper dental consultation and emergency attention is sought. Sometimes, it may be a reflection of other significant issues and therefore it is crucial to seek help. In addition to this list of signs, there is a possibility that dental emergencies can occur after one undergoes any dental surgery or procedure. In the situation that your crown or filling falls off, immediate care is also needed.

What to do if these situations happened to you:

  • Broken or chipped teeth

Experiencing a broken, chipped or cracked tooth is incredibly common. If you face this problem, it is best that you visit your nearest dentist immediately. A broken or chipped tooth is not only vulnerable to the spread of bacteria but also to further structural damage. If left for too long there is a possibility of pulpal irritation (nerve and blood supply) resulting in severe pain. Once you’ve realised you have a broken or chipped tooth, it is best to seek advice as soon as possible. 

To reduce your discomfort before visiting your dentist, here’s what you can do:

  • Avoid irritants ie. foods or liquids that are too hot or too cold as extreme temperatures will cause severe pain.
  • If you are eating or drinking, avoid chewing on the side of your mouth where you’ve broken or chipped your tooth.
  • Avoid hard foods, sugary or sticky foods. A diet of softer foods is recommended.
  • Take pain medication.

During your appointment, your dentist will be able to access the damage and determine whether your tooth can be repaired. In some cases, the tooth may need to be extracted. If an emergency extraction is required, you will require follow-up appointments to restore the condition of your smile, with an artificial tooth or additional dental work. For example, cosmetic dental bonding or a dental crown can help to restore the appearance of a chipped tooth.

  • Knocked out tooth

 For this emergency dental situation, fast and proper treatment can play a major role in saving the tooth. When a tooth gets knocked out, you should first locate the tooth. The remaining necessary steps differ for adults and kids, as follows:

For adults: The best solution is if it is still in your mouth, try to reinsert it into the socket. If it doesn’t stay, keep it under your tongue or in a cup of saliva/milk.

For kids: DO NOT attempt to reinsert the tooth, and do not place it in the kid’s mouth. Store in a glass of milk.

Time is important for the survivability of the tooth. Should you face such a situation, contact us immediately for trauma management.

  • Severe tooth pain or sensitivity

Tooth pain, or toothache, can be caused by a cavity, a fractured tooth, a damaged nerve or even an infection. In the situation where the pain prevents you from being able to chew without discomfort, or if the pain is constant, you may be facing a dental emergency and should visit your dentist immediately. Fast and accurate treatment will help to prevent further problems. To determine whether you will receive a dental filling or any other treatment, however, will be dependent on your dentist’s assessment and the cause of the pain.

Some of the steps for teeth pain relief include: 

  • Avoiding known irritants ie. cold drinks, hot drinks, sugary foods.
  • Proper oral hygiene such as brushing and flossing to remove any food debris.
  • Take an over-the-counter medication to reduce pain.

While these steps may relieve some of the pain, you should still schedule a visit with your dentist as soon as possible, and to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the affected area.


What happens if I have severe swelling that is affecting my eye or throat?

In severe cases, where the infections can be potentially life-threatening, it is best to go to a local emergency hospital for immediate treatment.


What else should you know about dental emergencies?

Whether you have a broken or missing tooth, an infection or just experiencing severe teeth and gum pain, immediate dental treatment will help to increase the chances of a successful outcome. Receiving treatment as soon as possible can prevent additional pain or damage.

It is also essential to understand that in this regard, you cannot protect yourself 100% against any injury to your teeth but it is possible to take precautions.

How can I avoid a dental emergency?

These are several ways to protect yourself against a dental emergency.

  • If you are participating in a sports event or any rough activities, remember to wear a mouthguard. Wearing a mouthguard is an effective way to protect you against one of the most common causes of broken or chipped teeth – sports injuries.
  • Avoid using your teeth to cut or open anything. Whether you are attempting to open a bottle or a package, using your teeth in this instance can result in unnecessary pressure, which can cause a fracture or crack in your teeth.
  • Avoid chewing hard substances, such as popcorn kernels or ice. This can result in damaging your teeth.
  • If you have a dental filling or have had restoration work done, it is important to visit the dentist regularly to review the quality of your restorations. With everything there is wear and tear of fillings as well. Additionally, if the initial factors that caused the filing are not addressed, the same issues can arise. In some cases, decay can still occur under an existing filling. Sometimes this may present as an irregularity, a loose or dislodged filling or if the filling falls out unexpectedly. To properly assess the extent of the problem your dentist will need to examine the situation and advise accordingly.
  • Remember to stick to a comprehensive dental hygiene routine. This preventative measure involves brushing twice a day, flossing regularly and using mouthwash. It is also equally important to come regularly to a routine dental check-up appointment, so that your dentist can get on top of things when issues are still manageable and have not turned into an emergency.
  • If you find yourself grinding or clenching during the day and/or night times, consult your dentist or bring this up at your next re-care appointment. Parafunctional activities may predispose to weakening of tooth structure and cracking of teeth in some cases.

For parents

If you are a parent and you believe your child might have a dental emergency, it is best to have it looked at by a proper professional. Depending on the age of the child the treatment may involve ensuring that the baby teeth is kept as long as possible to avoid possible space lost issues. Space loss issues can occur when a child’s baby teeth is lost prematurely, especially when the loss of that tooth was a lot earlier than when it is naturally supposed to be replaced by an adult teeth. When early loss of a baby teeth occurs, it can cause shifting of other teeth, which may alter the eruption direction of the adult teeth beneath it. This might predispose to dental malocclusions and the possibility that the child may require braces in the future. An emergency dental appointment for an examination that will determine the possible signs of stress or damage.

For all dental emergencies please contact us directly on (03)98772589.

Alternatively, you can book online

In the event that you experience a dental emergency, you should seek dental care immediately. Blackburn Family Dental Care will try to accommodate your emergency, as soon as we have availability. In most cases, we will be able to see you on the same day.

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Blackburn VIC 3130

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Conveniently positioned for patients seeking cosmetic dental bonding in Blackburn, Box Hill, Burwood, Nunawading, Mitcham, Vermont, Forest Hill, Canterbury & Surrey Hills. Our Blackburn North Dental Clinic is next to Blackburn station via the Belgrave or Lilydale line. Walk towards Main St (2 minutes) and you will see a light blue signage.

Parking is available behind Blackburn Family Dental, entering Main St or alternatively on S parade.

Many buses, including 703 and 765, are also in close proximity to our Blackburn North dental clinic.