While the term “dental emergency” has been used to describe any urgent dental concern, the term itself is a bit hazy. 

When someone says they have a dental emergency, they may mean that they have experienced sudden and severe pain and need to go to the dentist right away. Or, they may be concerned that they need to have a particular procedure sooner rather than later.

A dental emergency is more than just a “bad day at the office.” It’s an unforeseen event that causes significant pain, has serious consequences and requires immediate care and attention.

Most dental emergencies are related to toothaches and infections. If you experience intense pain somewhere in your mouth, or if you experience pain that doesn’t go away, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist.

Here are the common dental issues that need emergency dentists:

Bleeding or Swollen Gums

If you notice that your gums are swollen or red and your teeth are sensitive to hot and cold, you may have an infection. Infections can cause inflammation in the gum tissue, and that’s why you’re feeling pain.

Swollen Jaw

Swelling on one side of your face can also be a sign of infection in your mouth. An abscess can cause swelling in the jaw, often near the ear. If you don’t take care of it in a timely fashion, it can cause pressure that affects your jaw and brain.

Lost Fillings or Crowns

If you lose a filling or crown, you should have the tooth restored immediately. If the tooth is not properly restored, you’ll have to have a root canal. You may also have to have the tooth pulled.

Exposed Nerves

If you have a cracked or broken tooth, the nerves inside the tooth can be exposed. That can cause pain and infection. You should have the tooth restored as soon as possible.

Unexplainable Toothache

If you can’t figure out what’s causing the pain in your mouth, you should have a dental exam to see if you have a dental infection or other dental issues that need to be addressed.

Sudden toothaches without any known cause should be regarded as a dental emergency. The tooth may be fractured or infected, or it may be part of a larger issue. Regardless of the source, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist right away.

Broken Crown

If you have a crown and it breaks off, you should have it repaired. If you leave it like that, the exposed crown will be prone to infection.

You should also have the tooth restored to prevent further damage. If you cannot repair the crown right away, you may have to have a root canal performed.


As you can see, many dental issues can be serious if they are left unchecked. An infection in your mouth can spread through your jaw, down your spine, and into your brain. If you leave a tooth with a cracked crown or a lost filling or crown infection may set in, which could require a root canal or an extraction. 

In the end, it’s in your best interest to have your dental issues addressed immediately. When you are suffering from any of the above problems, schedule an appointment with your dentist.

If you need dental emergency care near Bethesda, MD, contact Pike District Smiles. We offer emergency dentistry services in North Bethesda, including walk-ins and after-hours availability to accommodate you. Call us today.