How Do I Know if My Toothache is an Emergency?

No one enjoys having a toothache, but how do you know whether it’s a passing phase or a symptom of a serious problem? Sometimes you may experience temporary pain if you recently had dental work done. If this isn’t the case for you and are experiencing these symptoms, then it’s time to book an emergency appointment with your Mission Viejo dentist.


  • The pain is making it difficult for you to speak or/and eat. 
  • Your mouth is throbbing and it is impossible to ignore it.
  • You are experiencing headaches from your tooth pain.
  • The pain has been present for more than 2 days.
  • Your gums hurt and/or bleeding. Your gums may also bleed when you floss if you are not flossing enough, but it can also be an indicator of gum disease (periodontitis).
  • Your tooth feels numb.
  • Your teeth feel more sensitive than they normally do, especially to hot or cold food and drink.
  • You have a fever on top of the tooth pain.
  • Your tooth is loose. When you were a child you probably became excited whenever you had a loose tooth because it was a sign of your permanent teeth coming in and a visit from the tooth fairy, but as an adult, it is anything but a good sign because it is an indication of a serious emergency and requires immediate attention.
  • You have recently been involved in a sports injury or other kind of accident that has left you with any kind of tooth or jaw pain.


A serious toothache in one or more teeth can be a symptom of a wide variety of dental problems. 

  • Cavities. Most of the time when tooth decay first appears in your teeth, you will not feel symptoms, so pain from a cavity is a giveaway that it has been present for some time and needs to be treated immediately before the decay infects the pulp.
  • An infected pulp. This can be the result of tooth decay that has reached the pulp of your tooth or a problem with a crown.
  • Cracked tooth. Certain foods can crack your teeth, including hard candy and chewing on ice. You may also crack your teeth if you have a bad habit of grinding your teeth as a result of your stress and will require a filling to treat it. If you have recently been injured or involved in an accident and cracked any of your teeth as a result of the incident, it is an emergency and you must schedule an appointment with us immediately.
  • Gum disease. There are several forms of gum disease that can result in pain in the tooth, most notably gingivitis and periodontitis.
  • A tooth abscess. This occurs when pus forms inside your tooth or in your gums, causing an infection. Depending on the severity of the abyss, you may require a root canal or removal of the tooth
  • Sinus congestion. Being sick with the flu or having seasonal allergies can put pressure on your teeth, resulting in an ache.


What you can do

If you are unable to visit the dentist immediately for whatever reason, there are several courses of action you can take to temporarily relieve or decrease your pain while you wait for your appointment with us.

  • Rinsing your mouth with salt water or hydrogen peroxide rinse.
  • Take over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen or Tylenol. 
  • Lying down to increase blood pressure to your head.
  • Using an ice pack or a tea bag to apply to your tooth.


Don’t go to the emergency room

Some people will attempt to visit their local emergency room with a toothache. This is not the correct measure to take as most hospitals are not equipped to handle dental predicaments as very little ER staff have dentists on call. The emergency room is also designated for life-threatening emergencies only and while a toothache can sometimes be an indication of a serious oral complication, it is not the appropriate measure to take. You should instead call our emergency contact number immediately at (949) 230-3939 to discuss the specifics of your issue. We strongly advise against sending an email as you will need someone to speak to from our office live so that we can get you in for a checkup as soon as possible. We even offer same-day emergency dental care and walk-in appointments. 


Avoiding toothaches in the future

We understand that life happens and sometimes there might be nothing to can do to prevent certain incidents, there are little things you can do everyday to prioritize your oral health to make toothaches less likely to occur, including all the basic functions such as brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing at least once a day, avoiding frequent consumption of sugar, drinking water, and visiting us for a cleaning twice a year. Just like how you do seemingly little things everyday such as looking both ways before crossing the street to keep yourself safe, these simple things come a long way, and that includes when you look after your dental health.


Book an Appointment with Us Today

If you have been searching for the best dentist in Mission Viejo, look no further. At Aria Dental we are committed to helping you achieve that gorgeous smile you have always dreamed of – painlessly! We are not the scary dentist with outdated methods you may have gone to before. We implement the latest and highest-quality technology into all of our patients’ care every day, and we want you to experience the difference for yourself, too Go ahead, call or send a text message to our Mission Viejo dentist office at (949) 364-9600 or send us an email directly on our website.