Honest Family Dental

10 Signs You Should See a Dentist Immediately

Let’s face it, nobody likes going to the dentist more often than they need to. But sometimes, ignoring certain symptoms can lead to bigger problems down the road. Recognizing the signs of a dental emergency can save you a lot of pain and trouble (not to mention money) in the long run. 

At Honest Family Dental, we’re here to ensure you know exactly when to make that urgent call. 

So, whether it’s a toothache that’s been driving you crazy or a suspicious bump that just won’t go away, here’s a handy guide to help you determine when to see a dentist immediately. 

Let’s dive in and keep those pearly whites in top shape!

1. Severe Toothache

A severe toothache can be a real pain in the… well, mouth. It’s one of the most common signs that something is seriously wrong with your dental health. 

While a mild toothache might be manageable with some over-the-counter painkillers, a persistent, severe toothache is your body’s way of saying, “Hey, pay attention!”

A severe toothache could indicate several issues, such as:

  • Tooth Decay
  • Infection
  • Cracked Tooth
  • Gum Disease

What to Do Until You See the Dentist:

  • Rinse with Warm Salt Water
  • Use a Cold Compress
  • Use Over-the-Counter Pain Relief

Remember, a severe toothache is not something to tough out. It’s a clear signal that you need professional dental care right away.

2. Swollen or Bleeding Gums

Swollen or bleeding gums might seem like a minor annoyance, but they can be a red flag for more serious underlying issues. If you notice that your gums are frequently swollen, tender, or bleed easily, it’s time to pay attention and consider seeing a dentist.

What Could It Mean? Swollen or bleeding gums can be a symptom of several dental problems, including:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
  • Improper Brushing or Flossing
  • Vitamin Deficiencies

Don’t dismiss swollen or bleeding gums as a minor issue. It’s your mouth’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. 

3. Loose or Knocked-Out Tooth

Whether you’re an adult or a child, a loose or knocked-out tooth is a dental emergency that needs immediate attention. While it’s normal for kids to lose their baby teeth, adults should never ignore a loose tooth.

A loose or knocked-out tooth is a clear signal that something is wrong, and immediate care is crucial. Prompt treatment can often save the tooth, prevent infection, and avoid further complications. 

At Honest Family Dental, we understand the urgency of a loose or knocked-out tooth and are here to provide the necessary care to save your tooth and restore your smile. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t hesitate to contact us immediately for prompt and professional dental care.

4. Persistent Bad Breath

Everyone experiences bad breath (or halitosis) from time to time, especially after a meal loaded with garlic or onions. But if you’re dealing with persistent bad breath that doesn’t go away despite good oral hygiene, it might be a sign that something more serious is going on.

What Could It Mean? Persistent bad breath can be caused by a variety of dental and medical issues, including:

  • Gum Disease
  • Tooth Decay
  • Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)
  • Oral Infections
  • Poor Dental Hygiene

If you’re experiencing persistent bad breath, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local dentist and schedule a consultation.

5. Jaw Pain or Swelling

Jaw pain or swelling can be more than just an annoyance; it can be a sign of a serious underlying dental or medical condition. If you’re experiencing persistent discomfort in your jaw, it’s crucial to seek professional help to determine the cause and receive appropriate treatment.

Ignoring jaw pain or swelling can lead to more severe complications, including chronic pain, infection spread, and even difficulty eating and speaking.

Jaw pain or swelling is not something to ignore. It’s your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. If you’re experiencing any type of symptoms related to jaw pain or swelling, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with professional care.

6. Dental Abscess

A dental abscess is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate attention. It occurs when a pocket of pus forms in the tooth or surrounding tissue due to a bacterial infection. 

If you suspect you have a dental abscess, it’s crucial to see a dentist right away.

A dental abscess typically indicates a severe infection, and can be caused by:

  • Untreated Tooth Decay
  • Gum Disease
  • Trauma
  • Complications from Previous Dental Work

A dental abscess is not something to take lightly. The infection can spread to other parts of your body, leading to serious complications such as sepsis, which is a life-threatening response to infection. Immediate dental care is necessary to drain the abscess, eliminate the infection, and prevent further health risks. 

7. Cracked or Broken Teeth

A cracked or broken tooth is not just a cosmetic issue—it can lead to serious dental problems if left untreated. Whether the result of an injury, biting down on something hard, or even a dental procedure gone awry, a cracked or broken tooth requires prompt attention from your dentist.

A cracked or broken teeth can present in various forms, each with its own implications:

  • Minor Chips: These are usually less serious but can still cause discomfort and sensitivity.
  • Cracks: These can vary in depth and length. A crack that extends to the root can be particularly concerning and painful.
  • Fractures: A fractured tooth can result in significant pain and might expose the inner layers of the tooth to bacteria, leading to infection.
  • Split Tooth: This is a severe condition where the tooth is split into distinct segments and often cannot be saved intact.

If you have a cracked or broken tooth, don’t delay in seeking treatment. It’s a serious matter!

8. Unexplained Numbness or Tingling

Experiencing unexplained numbness or tingling in your mouth, face, or jaw is not something to ignore. These sensations can indicate a variety of dental or medical issues that require prompt attention to diagnose and treat effectively.

Unexplained numbness or tingling can be caused by several underlying issues, including:

  • Nerve Damage: Trauma or infection can damage the nerves in your mouth or jaw, leading to numbness or tingling.
  • Tooth Abscess: An untreated abscess can spread the infection to the nerves, causing these sensations.
  • TMJ Disorders: Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders can affect the nerves and muscles around the jaw, leading to tingling or numbness.
  • Neurological Conditions: In rare cases, these symptoms could indicate a neurological condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Ignoring numbness or tingling can result in worsening of the underlying issue, potentially leading to permanent nerve damage or other serious complications.

Experiencing unexplained numbness or tingling in your mouth or face is a clear sign that you need to see a dentist immediately.

9. Difficulty Swallowing or Breathing

Difficulty swallowing or breathing is a serious and potentially life-threatening symptom that requires immediate medical attention. These issues can be linked to severe dental infections or other conditions that need urgent care.

Difficulty swallowing or breathing can be caused by several dental-related issues, including:

  • Severe Dental Infection: Infections such as a dental abscess can spread and cause swelling that impinges on your airway or esophagus.
  • Ludwig’s Angina: This is a severe, rapidly spreading infection of the floor of the mouth that can obstruct the airway, leading to difficulty breathing or swallowing.
  • Swelling Due to Injury: Trauma to the face or jaw can cause significant swelling, impacting your ability to swallow or breathe.
  • Allergic Reactions: An allergic reaction to dental materials or medications can cause swelling of the throat and airway.

Difficulty swallowing or breathing is a medical emergency. It can indicate that an infection is spreading or that swelling is impeding your airway. Immediate intervention is crucial to prevent severe complications or even death.

10. Sores or Lesions That Don’t Heal

Sores or lesions in your mouth that don’t heal within a couple of weeks can be a warning sign of a more serious condition. While some oral sores are benign and will resolve on their own, persistent sores or lesions should always be evaluated by a dentist.

Sores or lesions that don’t heal can be caused by a variety of issues, including:

  • Oral Cancer: One of the most serious potential causes of non-healing sores is oral cancer. Early detection is critical for successful treatment.
  • Infections: Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections can cause persistent sores or lesions.
  • Autoimmune Conditions: Conditions such as lichen planus or pemphigus vulgaris can lead to chronic sores in the mouth.
  • Chronic Irritation: Ill-fitting dentures, broken teeth, or habits like tobacco use can cause ongoing irritation, preventing sores from healing.

Persistent sores or lesions in the mouth can indicate serious underlying conditions that require prompt diagnosis and treatment. Early intervention is especially important in the case of oral cancer, as it significantly improves the chances of successful treatment. 


Recognizing the signs that you need to see an emergency dentist can save you from unnecessary pain, prevent serious complications, and protect your overall health. At Honest Family Dental, we understand that dental issues can arise unexpectedly, and we’re here to provide prompt, compassionate, and effective care when you need it most.

From severe toothaches and swollen gums to loose teeth and persistent bad breath, each of these symptoms is a signal that something more serious may be going on with your dental health. By paying attention to these signs and seeking timely intervention, you can prevent minor issues from becoming major problems.

Remember, dental health is an integral part of your overall well-being. If you experience any of the signs mentioned in this article, don’t hesitate to contact us at Honest Family Dental. Our dedicated team is ready to provide the urgent care you need, ensuring your smile stays healthy and strong.