Dental Emergencies: What are They and What to Do


Like gum disease and tooth decay, lots of dental issues develop over time after months or years of neglect. Sometimes, however, sensitivity or pain in your mouth could occur suddenly, and you might require urgent dental care from your trusted general dentist or the local emergency room.

The problem is, it isn’t always easy to determine whether a mouth, gum, or tooth issues needs emergency dental attention or what you should do when you experience one. In this light, below is a practical guide to common situations that may or may not be real dental emergencies.

A Cracked or Broken Tooth

Rinse out your mouth with clean lukewarm water and place a cold compress on the cheek outside the affected site if there’s pain. Then, contact the dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist may ask you to see him or her right away or give you specific care instructions for home care depending on the extent of the crack or chip.

A Bleeding Tongue or Lip

Clean the affected site and place a cold compress on it to reduce swelling. Get urgent care if the bleeding doesn’t stop or is severe.

An Injured Jaw

Place a cold compress on the injured area for relief and see your dentist or seek emergency help if you think you’ve broken your jaw.

A Loose Tooth

For a partially dislodged tooth, visit your dentist ASAP to try and save the tooth from completely falling out. Relieve pain by applying a cold compress and taking an OTC pain medication.

Damaged Braces

Consult your dentist or orthodontist immediately. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may have to get it fixed right away or wait for your next scheduled appointment.

A Knocked Out Tooth

If it’s dirty, rinse it carefully and avoid scrubbing off or dislodging any remaining attached oral tissue. If possible, reinsert it into its socket, place some cotton over the tooth, and bite down on it as you head to your dentist’s office. If this isn’t possible, place the tooth in a clean container with milk to preserve it while you’re heading to the dental clinic.

dental treatment

Objects Stuck Between Your Teeth

Use dental floss to try and remove the stuck object. If this doesn’t work, talk to your dentist because depending on your specific situation, you may or may not have to see your dentist right away.

A Lost Dental Crown or Filling

Keep your crown or filling in a clean container and contact your dentist to set an appointment. You can also apply some dental cement that you can purchase in the drugstore on the tooth’s surface to protect it until you get your crown or filling fixed.

Severe or Sudden Toothache

For tooth pain, rinse your mouth with water first and floss around it to ensure that there’s nothing stuck between your teeth. Contact your dentist if the pain persists, is getting worse, and/or there’s swelling.

Painful and Severe Swelling

Inform your dentist about your symptoms if you’re experiencing painful and severe swelling in your gums, as you might an abscess, which is an infected pus pocket that could result in severe systemic infection if not addressed as soon as possible. Until your dental appointment, rinse your mouth with some warm water mixed in with salt to alleviate pressure and pain.

Some of these dental emergencies could result in permanent damage or potentially fatal infections if not resolved quickly. So always err on the safe side if you’re not sure and ask your dentist for advice. Remember, the earlier you obtain proper treatment, the higher your chances of an easy and fast recovery.

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