If you have severe dental pain, seeing an emergency dentist should be at the top of your list of priorities. Dental pain can result from an injury that requires immediate medical attention or indicate tooth decay or an infection. To find out what is causing your pain and work out how to treat it, emergency dentists may ask the following questions.

1. Where Does It Hurt?

Identifying the source of dental pain can be surprisingly difficult. Sometimes, pain from a broken tooth or abscess can radiate into other parts of the mouth or even up into the sinuses. If you can, try to identify the source of the pain as precisely as possible so your emergency dentist can help you. It helps if you can verbally identify the tooth — for example, by saying 'the third molar on the lower left' — rather than relying on pointing, which can be difficult when the tooth is located far back in a sore mouth.

2. How Bad Is the Pain?

Dentists and other medical professionals often use a scale of 1 to 10 to quantify pain. On this scale, 1 means that the pain is barely noticeable, while 10 means that it is the worst pain you can imagine. The more severe the pain, the more urgently you need treatment to prevent complications and allow you to live a normal life. If possible, try to keep track of how your pain has developed. Pain that starts off mild but gradually becomes more severe can be a sign of infection, which might require antibiotics to treat.

3. How Long Have You Had This Pain?

Ignoring dental pain is never a good idea, but emergency dentists understand that people have busy lives and are not always able to see a dentist right away. Let your emergency dentist know exactly when the pain started so they can assess the likely extent of decay or infection in your mouth.

4. Did the Pain Begin Suddenly or Gradually?

Pain that arises suddenly is often caused by an injury or damage to protective dental work, such as fillings or bridges. Let your dentist know what you were doing when the pain started, such as if you were biting down on food or playing sports. If the pain arose gradually, let the dentist know when you first noticed it and how it has developed. This information will help the dentist work out the cause of the pain so they can give you appropriate treatment.