The Shock of Sudden Tooth Pain: Understanding and Managing Dental Emergencies in Fresno

man in fresno suffering a dental emergency There’s nothing quite like the shock of extreme tooth pain suddenly disrupting your day. Whether it strikes in the quiet of the night or the midst of a busy afternoon, unexplained tooth pain can be debilitating, leaving you desperate for both relief and answers. At OnCall Dental- Fresno, our goal is to make your dental emergency tolerable.

Understanding Dental Emergencies

To appreciate how to manage a dental emergency, it’s vital to distinguish which conditions warrant urgent attention. The most common emergencies include:

Severe Toothaches

These are the kinds of toothaches that feel like your head is about to split open. They might be throbbing, piercing, or constant. The key characteristic is their unrelenting severity, often signaling an underlying issue such as an abscess or decay that has reached the nerve.

Chipped or Broken Teeth

Sudden trauma or biting down on something hard can result in chips or fractures in your teeth, sometimes extending into the dentin or pulp and causing significant pain.

Knocked Out Teeth

Physical impact can sometimes dislodge a tooth from its socket. If you act quickly, there’s a chance the tooth can be saved, but time is of the essence.

Extruded (Partially Dislodged) Teeth

Similar to being knocked out, if a tooth has been partially moved from its original position, this should be treated as a dental emergency.

Lost Filling or Crown

When a filling or crown is suddenly lost, you’re left with an exposed tooth, which can be both painful and at risk of further damage.


Typified by swelling in your mouth, a severe, persistent toothache, and often a foul taste in the mouth, an abscess signals a serious infection that can spread to the jaw and even into the bloodstream.

Recognizing the urgency of these conditions is a crucial first step in responding to dental emergencies.

Immediate Actions and Self-Care

When dental distress strikes, what you do in the next few minutes can significantly impact the outcome. Here’s OnCall Dental – Fresno’s guide on how to respond to different scenarios:

Severe Tooth Ache

  • Rinse your mouth with warm water.
  • If there’s swelling, use a cold compress on the outside of your cheek.
  • Briefly floss to check for any lodged food.
  • If the pain persists, take over-the-counter pain medication (aspirin-free) and contact an emergency dentist.

Chipped or Broken Teeth

  • Save any pieces if possible.
  • Rinse the mouth with warm water and apply gauze to bleeding areas.
  • A cold compress can help with swelling.
  • Contact a dentist for an appointment as soon as possible.

Knocked Out Tooth

  • Retrieve the tooth by the crown (not the root) and rinse it gently if it’s dirty, without scrubbing it.
  • Try to re-insert the tooth into the socket and hold it in place with clean gauze or a washcloth.
  • If it can’t be reinserted, store it in a container of milk, saliva, or a tooth-preservation product available from the pharmacy.
  • Seek immediate dental care.

Extruded Tooth

  • Gently try to push the tooth back into its normal position using very light finger pressure.
  • Hold the tooth in place with a moist tissue or gauze.
  • Call your dentist or an emergency room for an appointment.

Lost Filling or Crown

  • Keep the affected area clean.
  • Purchase dental cement or temporary filling material from the pharmacy to cover the exposed area until you can see the dentist.
  • Never use super glue or any other household adhesive. Dental products are specifically designed for this purpose.


  • Rinse mouth with mild saltwater to help with the swollen area.
  • Contact your dentist for immediate care.

Remember, these are just initial measures to manage pain and prevent further damage. Coming in to see our professionals for proper dental care is crucial for full resolution.

Dealing with a dental emergency can be a jolting experience, but arming yourself with the right knowledge, skills, and resources can turn a frightening situation into a manageable one. By understanding what constitutes a dental emergency, knowing how to respond in the immediate aftermath, and seeking prompt professional care at OnCall Dental – Fresno, you can address the issue with clarity and composure. Remember, you are not alone — our professionals are ready to assist and guide you through these unforeseen events. Take proactive steps now to prepare for the unexpected, and you’ll be much better positioned to handle any uninvited tooth disturbances that cross your path.


OnCall Dental – Fresno
5492 N Palm Ave Ste A
Fresno, CA 93704