Dental emergencies are painful, confusing, and frightening, and they can successfully disrupt our entire day as well as make concentrating on anything difficult. Your first option to deal with this issue would be to head to a dentist, but what if that’s not possible? Can you go to urgent care for a toothache? Does that even make sense?

When it comes to toothaches, we will do anything to get rid of the pain. This involves rushing to urgent care, but how much can a hospital really help with toothaches? Are they even equipped to help deal with them? Are there dentists available on-call at the urgent care department?

Those are often the dilemmas people face when considering going to urgent care for a toothache. So, we decided to find out whether urgent care is even a viable option for a toothache.

What Are the Factors that Make a Dental Emergency Urgent?

Certain dental emergencies need immediate attention, while others can wait, so it is imperative to know what the difference between the two is, in case you experience dental problems at night time or over the weekend when the dentist’s office is closed.

Examples of Urgent Dental Problems

  • Swelling on the area
  • A painful toothache
  • An injured jaw
  • A knocked out or loose permanent tooth.
  • Bleeding that just does not stop

It goes without saying that such urgent dental emergencies must be dealt with right away as waiting could potentially be life-threatening. Hence, you must call your dentist if you are experiencing any of the problems listed above.

Most dentists will have an emergency number in case their patients experience any critical issues outside their business hours, so take advantage of this. If you are still unable to reach your dentist for whatever reason, then visiting an emergency room is imperative so that the situation does not worsen.

Examples of Non-Urgent Dental Issues

  • Lost crown, filling, or bridge
  • A cracked or a broken tooth (unless the pain is unbearable)
  • A damaged or a broken retainer or a night guard
  • Food lodged in between your teeth
  • A dull toothache

Keep in mind though that it is still advisable to call and visit your dentist right away even if it’s a non-urgent dental issue.

Who Is the Ideal Person to Contact?

It goes without saying that the dentist is the ideal person you can get in touch with when you have a dental emergency, but in certain situations, it may be best to head straight to urgent care. As a general rule, you should head to urgent care only if you experience unbearable pain or bleeding that just does not stop even if remedies have been done.

If the pain is manageable by home remedies or bearable, then it is advisable to call your dentist on the phone and explain to him or her about the situation. While most dentists will try their best to see you as quickly as possible, do not fret if that does not happen. In most cases, dental emergencies are not always as urgent as you would assume them to be.

Can You Go to Urgent Care for a Toothache?

The answer is probably not. The doctors in an urgent care facility are emergency physicians, and none of them practice dentistry. The possibility of finding a dentist in an urgent care facility or even to have one on call is extremely rare too.

Thus, when you do end up visiting the urgent care in a hospital, they won’t be able to treat the tooth directly. What they will do is prescribe medications, such as pain relievers and antibiotics, to help ease the pain, stop the bleeding, or prevent further infection.

Urgent care does become essential when a toothache could turn life-threatening. In such cases, the emergency physician will ensure that it does not reach a point where it will affect your life, which means they can buy you some time till you visit your dentist.

What Can You Do at Home in Case of a Non-Urgent Dental Problem?

When you experience a non-urgent dental issue, there are a couple of home remedies you could try out to help relieve some of the pain. Regardless of everything, it is imperative that you remain as calm as you can. When you become anxious, your body also triggers a number of responses which makes your emergency worse.

Below are some home remedies that have been used for years and have proven to be highly effective to help ease toothache symptoms.

  • For a knocked-out tooth, put the tooth in a glass of milk until you get a chance to visit the dentist.
  • If you are experiencing single-tooth pain, try flossing around that tooth. There is a high possibility that something is stuck between the teeth or even inside the gum tissue.
  • Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm, but not hot, water. Thoroughly swish it all around your mouth for about a minute before spitting it out. This can help relieve some of the irritation and can also reduce the swelling.
  • Alternatively, you can do the same thing by using hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide has the ability to kill all the bacteria around the affected tooth and can also help alleviate the irritation.
  • You can also try using a cold compress to help numb the irritation, reduce the swelling, and stop the bleeding.

The Best Solution

The best solution to tackle this entire problem is not to let it happen in the first place. By maintaining proper dental hygiene, which includes brushing twice a day, flossing and using mouthwash regularly, you significantly lower the risk of any dental issues. Furthermore, routine visits to your dentist, at least twice a year, will ensure no situation will arise that will require you to rush to urgent care in the first place.


With all the points taken, the answer to the question “Can you go to urgent care for a toothache?” is sort of a yes, especially in life-threatening situations such as severe pain, toothache with fever, and continuous bleeding. That said, it is always wise to maintain proper dental hygiene to prevent dental problems and the need to visit urgent care facilities.

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