It's not always easy to differentiate between dental problems that require a visit to the emergency dentist and issues which don't need immediate treatment. Here are two scenarios in which it is important to go to your dentist straight away.

You're experiencing severe pain which is getting worse and worse

Generally speaking, a toothache which is causing mild to moderate pain does not usually necessitate an appointment with an emergency dentist. However, if the pain is very severe, has been getting steadily worse, and seems to be spreading outwards from the affected tooth to other areas of your head (such as your throat, ears and jawbone), then you should call your dentist immediately.

This type of pain is often a sign of a serious infection inside the pulp of the tooth. The pulp contains all of the tooth's nerve endings and blood vessels; it keeps the tooth moist and supplies it with essential nutrients. If it becomes inflamed and infected, there is a risk that the tooth root could die, in which case the entire tooth would need to be extracted. Moreover, if left untreated, the infection could spread to other parts of the head; this could lead to further medical complications.

In this scenario, your dentist would most likely perform a root canal to save the tooth and provide you with antibiotics to prevent the infection from worsening.

You have dislodged a tooth

If you fall face-first onto the ground or get hit in the mouth whilst playing sports, there is a good chance that one of your teeth may become dislodged. If this happens, it is absolutely vital to go to your nearest emergency dentist as soon as you possibly can. There is a very small window of time in which it may be possible to save the tooth from being permanently lost. It usually needs to be reattached within the first hour or so after its dislodgement.

You can increase the likelihood of your tooth being saved if you store it correctly during the period of time between it being knocked out and your arrival at the dentist. The best place to keep it is in its socket; simply use some milk to rinse off any debris which has accumulated on its surface (don't be tempted to scrub dirt away with a toothbrush, as this could damage the periodontal ligament and thus make it harder for the dentist to reattach the tooth) and then reinsert it back into the socket, holding it in place with your fingers until you get to the dental clinic.

If putting it back into your mouth is not possible (perhaps because the tooth has cracked or there is too much blood coming from the wound site), then it should be placed into a lunchbox or bottle filled with milk. This liquid will keep the tooth moist and therefore prevent the tooth root from dying off before you reach the dentist.