Out of Hours Dental Pain: When Do You Need an Emergency Appointment?

Problems with your teeth don't always happen at convenient times when your dentist's office is open for business. While you may be able to manage a regular toothache if you have a problem with your teeth at night, during a weekend or on a public holiday, you may need emergency treatment from a 24-hour dentist or clinic if the pain is unmanageable or you have other issues. When do you need an emergency appointment?

Tooth Loss

If you have an accident and lose a tooth, it's best to try to find an emergency dentist as soon as you can. This isn't so much about pain management but is about trying to get the tooth back in your mouth. According to the Australian Dental Association, you may be able to re-implant a lost tooth so that it grows back in your gum if you get the tooth back in its socket within 30 minutes of it coming out and then see a dentist as soon as you can. The dentist can then help anchor the tooth into place, giving you the best chance of saving the tooth.

Tip: Dentists don't typically re-implant baby teeth. If your child has an accident and loses a baby tooth, you don't need to see a dentist on an emergency basis unless there are other problems such as bleeding that won't stop, facial trauma or a lot of pain.

Tooth Pain

You don't need to see an emergency dentist for a simple toothache; however, more extreme pain may need faster treatment. If you have a toothache that is constant and that can't be managed by regular painkillers, then you may need to see a dentist quickly. Other symptoms may also point to a more serious issue. For example, if your tooth hurts all the time and is very sensitive to hot or cold, then you may have a dental abscess that needs quick treatment. It's also best to seek emergency treatment if your tooth pain is accompanied by a fever and facial swelling to check if you have an infection.

Trauma or Accident

If you've had an accident that has affected your mouth, teeth or your jaw, you may need immediate treatment. For example, you should make an emergency appointment if you have oral bleeding that you cannot stop yourself or if you are suffering from pain in your jaw or in other areas of your mouth. If you don't seem to also have a problem with your teeth, you may want to go to your local hospital to be checked out for other issues such as fractures.

Tip: If you need to get an emergency dental appointment but don't know of a 24-hour dentist, try calling your own dentist's office first. Although closed, the practice may have put emergency advice on its answerphone system so that you know who to call or where to go for emergency treatment in your area.