Introduction to Urgent Dental Problems – for patients (Humans)

By David F. Murchison, DDS, MMS, Clinical Professor, Department of Biological Sciences;Clinical Professor, The University of Texas at Dallas;Texas A & M University Baylor College of Dentistry

Certain dental problems require prompt treatment to relieve discomfort and minimize damage to the structures of the mouth. Such urgent dental problems include

  • Toothaches
  • Fractured, loosened, and knocked-out teeth
  • Jaw fractures
  • A dislocated jaw
  • Infections of the bone (osteomyelitis) of the jaw
  • Certain complications that can develop after dental treatment

To relieve most dental pain and discomfort, people can take acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen) by mouth. To relieve severe pain, people may need to combine these drugs with more powerful prescription opioid pain relievers such as codeine, hydrocodone, or oxycodone. To relieve pain resulting from a surgical procedure, people may alternate between ibuprofen and acetaminophen every 3 hours for a short period of time.

To treat infections caused by dental problems, doctors and dentists give penicillin, amoxicillin, or clindamycin.

People with certain heart conditions or who have a weak immune system and a prosthetic joint are given antibiotics to prevent infection of the heart (endocarditis) or joint that may result from some invasive dental procedures (see also Infective Endocarditis : Prevention).


Merck Manual