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What Procedures Does an Emergency Dentist Perform?

An unforeseen dental issue can be as alarming as it is painful. Most times, your regular dentist may not be available immediately, necessitating an emergency dentist. Exactly what procedures does an emergency dentist perform? Read on to find out.

Understanding Dental Emergencies

A dental emergency is an unexpected incident involving the mouth that leads to intense pain, uncontrollable bleeding, or noticeable harm to the teeth or gums. The utmost priority during such unexpected events is seeking immediate professional care to prevent potential complications and the risk of tooth loss. Click here to learn more about emergency dentistry.

Key Characteristics of Dental Emergencies

  • Sudden and Severe Pain: Dental emergencies are often accompanied by sharp and intense pain that may be constant or worsen over time. This discomfort can significantly impact your daily activities and overall well-being.
  • Uncontrolled Bleeding: Excessive and uncontrollable bleeding from the mouth, gums, or other oral tissues indicates a dental emergency. Rapid action is essential to address the bleeding and prevent further complications.
  • Visible Damage: Visible damage to teeth, gums, or other oral structures indicates a dental emergency. This damage could result from accidents, falls, or trauma to the mouth.

Common Causes of Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies can arise from various unexpected events, including

  • Sports Injuries: High-impact sports or activities can lead to accidents that cause trauma to the mouth, resulting in severe pain and damage.
  • Accidental Falls: Trips, falls, or other accidents that impact the mouth can lead to dental emergencies, causing pain and injury.
  • Biting on Hard Objects: Accidentally biting down on hard foods, objects, or surfaces can result in sudden pain and dental damage.
  • Injury to Teeth or Gums: Any injury, such as a blow to the mouth, that leads to visible damage or bleeding is considered a dental emergency.

Procedures an Emergency Dentist Performs

1. Oral Exams and X-Rays

  • Comprehensive Assessment: During an oral examination, an emergency dentist carefully evaluates the condition of the patient’s mouth, teeth, gums, and surrounding structures. This assessment helps identify visible issues and provides insight into underlying problems.
  • X-ray Imaging: X-rays are essential diagnostic tools that enable emergency dentists to visualize areas not visible during a visual examination. X-rays can reveal fractures, decay, infections, and other hidden concerns, aiding in accurate diagnosis.

2. Teeth Re-Implantation and Splinting

  • Tooth Re-implantation: When a tooth has been knocked out due to trauma, an emergency dentist may assess the tooth’s viability for re-implantation. If the tooth is intact and preserved appropriately, the dentist may carefully reposition and secure it back into its socket. Timeliness is critical for the success of reimplantation.
  • Splinting: Emergency dentists may use splinting techniques to stabilize the affected tooth in loose or displaced teeth cases. A splint, a wire or composite material, is bonded to the loose tooth and neighboring teeth to prevent movement and encourage proper healing.

3. Pain Relief and Infection Control

  • Immediate Pain Management: Pain is often a primary concern in dental emergencies. Emergency dentists administer local anesthesia to numb the affected area, providing immediate relief and enabling the patient to undergo necessary procedures comfortably.
  • Infection Management: If an infection is present, the emergency dentist may prescribe antibiotics to control the infection and prevent its spread to surrounding tissues or throughout the body. This proactive approach helps mitigate potential complications.

4. Fillings and Bonding

  • Tooth-Colored Fillings: Tooth-colored composite resin fillings restore teeth with minor cracks or chips. The dentist carefully cleans and prepares the damaged area before applying the resin. This material is color-matched to the natural tooth shade, ensuring a seamless and aesthetically pleasing restoration.
  • Dental Bonding: Dental bonding involves applying a tooth-colored composite resin to the tooth’s surface to repair minor cosmetic imperfections, such as chips, gaps, or discolorations. The resin is sculpted and shaped before being hardened with a special light, improving its appearance.

5. Extractions

  • Necessary Extractions: In cases where a tooth is severely damaged, decayed, or poses a risk to neighboring teeth, an emergency dentist may perform an extraction. The dentist ensures the patient’s comfort throughout the procedure and guides post-extraction care and potential tooth replacement options.

6. Treatment of Oral Injuries

  • Soft Tissue Injuries: Emergency dentists address injuries to soft tissues in the mouth, including cuts, tears, or punctures to the lips, cheeks, tongue, or gums. Suturing and wound care are performed to facilitate healing and minimize the risk of infection.
  • Fractured Jaw Management: In situations involving a fractured jaw, emergency dentists take measures to stabilize the jaw, align any displaced segments, and prevent further damage. Referrals to oral and maxillofacial surgeons may be made for advanced treatment.

7. Temporary Restorations

  • Temporary Crowns: Emergency dentists may fabricate and place temporary crowns or restorations to protect and stabilize damaged teeth until a permanent restoration can be created and placed.
  • Temporary Solutions: These interim measures prevent further damage, alleviate discomfort, and maintain oral functionality until a comprehensive treatment plan can be implemented.

8. Consultation and Referrals

  • Specialist Referrals: If a dental emergency requires specialized expertise, such as oral surgery, endodontic (root canal) treatment, or orthodontic intervention, emergency dentists may provide referrals to appropriate specialists.
  • Treatment Planning: Emergency dentists discuss with patients to outline long-term treatment options and develop comprehensive plans for restoring and maintaining dental health after addressing the immediate emergency.

The Role of Root Canals in Emergency Dentistry

A significant part of handling dental emergencies involves referring to appropriate specialists when the situation calls for it. One such situation is when a patient requires a root canal. Advanced root canal treatment is used to save severely infected or decayed teeth. This procedure involves removing the damaged area and nerve of the tooth, cleaning and disinfecting it, and then filling and sealing it. This can prevent pain and the spread of infection.

Emergency Dentistry and Invisalign Treatment

Emergency dentists also play a crucial role in issues arising during orthodontic treatment, such as Invisalign. Invisalign is a brace that uses clear plastic aligners to straighten teeth. However, if a patient accidentally damages an aligner, an emergency dentist can step in to prevent any disruption to the treatment process.

One important consideration when thinking about Invisalign is assessing the financial implications. Often, these Invisalign treatment expenses can be a deciding factor for many patients. It is worth noting that prices will vary depending on the case’s complexity and the treatment’s duration.


An emergency dentist plays an essential role in addressing urgent dental issues promptly to preserve oral health and alleviate severe pain. From managing injuries and infections to interacting with advanced procedures like root canals and Invisalign, their expertise ensures every patient gets the immediate attention and care necessary in a dental emergency. Remember, if you need immediate dental care, don’t hesitate to seek out experienced emergency dentists equipped to handle such cases.