Dental Emergencies (Part 1 of 2)

Dental Emergencies (Part 1 of 2)

What constitutes a Dental Emergency?


Any type of serious injury to the lips, mouth, cheek, or tongue is a dental emergency.

You should call your family dentist immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • If you have been hit in the mouth, or hit your mouth hard on something.                                                                 
  • If you have fractured, chipped or knocked out a tooth.
  • If you are in severe pain.
  • If you have any loose teeth.
  • If you have any swelling, lacerations, puncture wounds, tears, bulges, pus, or signs of infection in any of the tissues in the mouth or facial area.

It’s better to err on the side of caution, than to take a “wait and see” stance in these situations. A dental emergency that is treated immediately can mean the difference between saving or losing a tooth, or even mean the difference between saving your life or losing your life.

A severe infection or an abscess can be life-threatening. If your dentist can’t be reached immediately, go to the hospital emergency room.

How to Avoid a Dental Emergency:


  • A mouth guard worn during sports activities can prevent fractured or broken teeth.
  • Avoid chewing on ice, hard candy, popcorn kernels and similar foods that may fracture your teeth.
  • Routine check-ups screen for issues that might develop into dental emergencies if left undetected. Your family dentist will check for infections, fractures or tooth decay near the nerve of a tooth that could cause pain or develop into an abscess.

If you are traveling to a destination where you may not have access to dental care, it is especially important to see your dentist before you leave to avoid a dental emergency while you are away.

If you do encounter a dental emergency while traveling, contact:

  • Organization for Safety and Asepsis Procedures (OSAP)
  • International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT).

If you have a dental emergency don’t hesitate to call Distinctive Dentistry at any time. It’s important to call us immediately rather than waiting and delaying treatment.  Your dental health is our top priority.

Dr. Keith Phillips has more than 25 years of experience in family dentistry, cosmetic dentistry and Prosthodontics. Dr. Phillips served as the Director of the Graduate Program in Prosthodontics at the University of Washington from 1996-2004. In 2014, he became the first dentist in Washington to earn a Certified Dental Technician credential, specializing in Implants, and he lectures nationally and internationally on implant dentistry.

Distinctive Dentistry, is located just off the freeway in Fife, WA, serving patients in the greater Tacoma area including Gig Harbor, Federal Way and Puyallup.

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5615 Valley Ave. E., Tacoma, WA 98424


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