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  • Home Knowledge Center What to Do in a Dental Emergency

    What to Do in a Dental Emergency

    When you experience dental pain, it’s important to know if you need emergency dental care and if your dental insurance plan covers you. Not all dental problems are emergencies. A tooth falling out, a toothache, a chipped tooth, or pain from a dental crown could be serious dental problems, but not necessarily emergencies, so it's best to consider your options in advance.

    Are toothaches considered dental emergencies?

    A toothache should be taken seriously, but may not require emergency dental care. It can be the first sign of a bigger issue and could lead to more serious dental problems if not cared for. You should call your dentist anytime you have a toothache. They can help you decide if you need to be seen immediately.

    What are some common dental emergencies?

    Things like a bad toothache, an injury in which a tooth or teeth have been knocked out, a tooth abscess that's infected are a few examples of some possible dental emergencies. But knowing when you should seek emergency dental services is important.

    Talk to your dentist whenever you have dental pain, suffer an injury or trauma to your mouth that includes broken or missing teeth, cuts, and other damage.

    Besides a toothache and other dental problems, a dentist can also help provide care for:

    • How to fix a chipped tooth
    • Tooth filling fell out
    • Dental crown pain
    • Broken tooth repair
    • Tooth abscess

    These may not necessarily be dental emergencies, but should be cared for as soon as possible.

    Need dental coverage?

    Cigna HealthcareSM offers a variety of affordable dental plans, from basic plans that cover preventive care to plans that help cover major dental care.
    Explore our dental plans

    What are some causes of dental emergencies?

    Playing sports, riding bikes, car accidents, work-related accidents, even rough play in and around your home, can lead to dental injuries resulting in a dental emergency.

    Other causes, include chipping a tooth drinking from glass bottles or eating something very hard that breaks or cracks a tooth.

    An infection can also lead to a tooth abscess which, if left untreated, could become something that needs to be treated immediately.

    How do I know if something is an actual dental emergency?

    Not all dental pain requires you to seek emergency dental services. In cases where one or more teeth have been completely knocked out, your mouth has been injured, or a tooth abscess is leading to a lot of pain, you may need to be seen immediately.

    Serious dental injuries or problems can lead to even worse problems if not cared for immediately. On the other hand, a filling that has fallen out, a minor chipped tooth, or a broken wire on braces, may be things that could wait until your dentist has an appointment, but always talk to your dentist for instructions on what action to take.

    What should I do if I have a dental emergency?

    Call your dentist first. If it's during regular business hours, they may be able to see you. Outside of normal business hours, other care options for a dental emergency include an urgent care center, or an emergency room for serious oral injuries.

    Review your dental insurance plan to see how dental emergencies are covered, as well as how much you and your plan may pay for emergency dental services.

    If I have teeth knocked out, what should I do before I get to a dentist?

    If one or more teeth have been dislodged, you should see your dentist immediately. You can take the following steps for saving and preserving the teeth:

    • Put teeth in milk
    • Pack a tooth socket—where the tooth came out in your mouth—with gauze, a cotton ball, or even a tea bag
    • For chipped and broken teeth, rinse and save the pieces, if possible

    Contact your dentist immediately for any dental problems. A tooth abscess, toothache, pain from a dental crown, and chipped or broken teeth need care and if left untreated could lead to serious dental problems.

    If you have a dental emergency, your dentist can tell you where to seek care.


  • Emergency Care
  • This content is general health information and not medical advice or services. Always consult with your doctor/dentist for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and health care recommendations.

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