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Pain in Teeth and Gums — Is Emergency Dental Care Needed?

Pain in your teeth and gums can signify dental health issues like deep decay, infection, or injury. Intense pain can make it challenging to eat and speak, adversely impacting your quality of life. If you are experiencing intense gum or tooth pain, it is important to see an emergency dentist for an evaluation. 

Your dentist can determine the cause of tooth pain and recommend the best course of treatment. Pain relief may come from medication, dental procedures, or oral hygiene changes. Whatever the cause of your tooth pain, multiple options are available to help you find relief.


What Causes Pain in Teeth and Gums?

Mild pain in teeth and gums may be caused by overbrushing or biting down on something hard. This is typically temporary and not considered a dental emergency. However, intense pain in the teeth and gums may be due to more serious oral health issues, including:


  • Gum Disease

Advanced gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults, and approximately 30% of adult Australians over 15 years old have periodontitis. Gum disease begins when plaque is allowed to build up on teeth.

emergency dental care gums teeth sydneyIf plaque is not removed with regular brushing and flossing, it turns into tartar, a hard deposit that can only be removed with professional cleaning. Plaque and tartar irritate and inflame your gums. 

This can lead to gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease. When brushing and flossing, your gums may become red, swollen, and bleed. Early gum disease is often still reversible and can usually be treated with a professional cleaning at the dentist. However, if plaque and tartar are not removed, you can experience damage to the gums and bone supporting the teeth. 

Left untreated, gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, a form of gum disease caused by deep periodontal pockets that allow bacteria to grow. Periodontitis can cause teeth to loosen or fall out. 

If you have gum disease, your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings, special mouth rinses, or antibiotics. In severe cases, gum flap surgery may be needed to clean the tooth root or repair damaged tissue.


  • Dental Abscess

A dental abscess is a sac containing a buildup of pus that can form in the gums, teeth, or jawbone and can cause severe damage to the surrounding tissues. Abscesses are usually caused by bacteria that enter the mouth through a crack in the tooth or gum. The bacteria then multiply and cause an infection. Dental abscesses are often painful and may cause swelling, redness, and inflammation. 

An abscess is considered a dental emergency and requires prompt treatment. Treatment typically involves surgically draining the pus from the abscess and prescribing antibiotics to clear the infection. In some cases, the affected tooth may also need to be extracted.



  • Pericoronitis

Pericoronitis is a dental emergency when the gum tissue around wisdom teeth becomes inflamed. This can happen when food gets trapped under a flap of gum tissue and lead to bacterial growth. Symptoms include gum pain, swelling, jaw stiffness, and fever. 

If left untreated, pericoronitis can lead to a dental abscess. Pericoronitis is treated by cleaning the affected area and taking antibiotics. If your wisdom tooth is impacted or you experience recurring pericoronitis infections, the wisdom tooth may need to be removed.


  • Sinusitis

Sinusitis occurs when the sinuses become inflamed. The sinuses are the air-filled cavities around the nose and eyes. When these cavities become inflamed, it can cause pain, pressure, and congestion. It can also lead to gum or tooth pain. This is because the inflammation can compress the nerves in the gums and teeth.

Taking antibiotics and using nasal sprays help reduce inflammation. Endoscopic surgery may also be necessary to drain the sinuses. With proper treatment, most people with sinusitis will feel better within a few weeks. However, some people may experience chronic sinusitis, which can last for months or even years.


  • Dental Trauma

Dental trauma is an injury to the mouth’s teeth, gums, or other structures. It can be caused by accidents, sports injuries, and physical assaults.

gums pain teeth emergency dentist sydneyDental trauma can lead to pain in teeth and gums, bleeding from the gums, sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, swelling in the mouth, and difficulty chewing. Dental trauma can also result in displaced or knocked out (avulsed) teeth. 

Dental injuries requiring an emergency dentist include avulsed teeth, fractures involving the pulp (nerve) of the tooth, and exposed root surfaces. Treatment for dental trauma depends on the type and severity of the injury. 

Superficial chips or fractures can be bonded or filled with tooth-coloured composite material. However, more severe injuries may require a dental crown or endodontic therapy, like a root canal treatment. If the fracture occurs below the gum line, or you have a split tooth or a vertical root fracture, the tooth may need to be extracted.


  • Vigorous Brushing and Flossing

Vigorous brushing and flossing can cause gum or tooth pain. Brushing too hard can damage your gums and tooth enamel, causing tooth pain and sensitivity. In most cases, tooth pain can be alleviated with simple home care remedies like taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, using toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth, or brushing with an electric toothbrush. 


  • Foreign Object

A foreign object lodged in the gums or teeth is a common dental emergency. This can happen while eating, playing sports, or biting on non-food items. Common objects that can become lodged in the mouth include popcorn husks, hard lollies, toothpicks, and small fragments of bone. 

The longer the object remains in your mouth, the greater the risk of infection and damage to your teeth, so getting an emergency dentist appointment is vital. Treatment for a foreign object generally involves numbing the area and gently removing the object. 


Visit an Emergency Dentist at No Gaps Dental

No Gaps Dental offers emergency dental services to alleviate dental pain and restore your oral health. Our experienced dentists provide various services, from simple fillings to complex dental surgeries for pain in teeth and gums

We accept all major insurance plans and offer flexible financing options funded through Smile Right. Contact us today on (02) 8007 6727 to schedule an appointment at one of our 15 Sydney locations.



Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner. 







Prevalence of periodontal disease, its association with systemic diseases and prevention

What is a dental injury?





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