What To Do During An Emergency Dental Situation

Cynthia Hoy

Like any emergency, a dental emergency can happen when you least expect it. A dental emergency can be any trauma to the teeth, gums, or mouth. In this post, we will walk you through how to respond to common emergency dental situations and steps to prevent them.

In some cases, it may happen instantly such as a broken or chipped tooth, or it may be pain that gradually builds over a few days to become intolerable such as a tooth infection. Whether it is sudden or progressed over time, you’ll want to seek dental care as soon as possible. In all situations you should:

  • Try to stay as calm as possible
  • Control the bleeding
  • See a dentist as soon as you can

Common Dental Emergencies And What To Do

A Tooth or Teeth Knocked Out (Avulsed)

This is one dental emergency when every moment counts. The tooth may be saved and take root again if you are able to get to the dentist quickly (within 1 hour or sooner). 

  • Gently rinse the tooth
  • Holding the tooth by the crown, gently reinsert it back into the socket (facing the correct way!)
  • Bite down on a clean cloth or gauze as you make your way to the dental clinic

If you aren’t able to reinsert the tooth, place the tooth in a cup of milk or saline solution and get to a dental office as quickly as you can.

A Chipped or Broken Tooth

Depending on the degree of pain and how much the tooth has fractured will determine if you need immediate attention or not. 

  • Control any bleeding
  • Use warm water to clean away any debris
  • Place a cold compress over the area
  • Warp any tooth fragments that can be recovered in wet gauze and see a dentist immediately for larger breaks. Small chips that aren’t causing a lot of pain do not need to be treated as an emergency dental procedure and you can book the next available appointment.

Displaced or Partially Dislodged Tooth

If a tooth has been pushed up into the socket DO NOT try to pull it down. If it is loose but not pushed up into the socket, gently move the tooth back into the original position.

  • Control the bleeding
  • Get to the dentist as soon as possible

Toothache or Abscess (Infection)

Infections can be serious and can spread if they aren’t dealt with. If you notice a pimple-like swelling on your gum that is painful, see a dentist as soon as possible. 

  • Rinse the mouth with warm or salt water to remove any debris
  • Gently brush and floss around the tooth
  • Apply a cold compress to the outside cheek 
  • Apply an oral numbing gel designed for mouths and teeth to help with pain

Lost Filling

A lost filling can expose roots that can be sensitive. 

  • Stick a piece of sugarless gum in the area as a temporary measure
  • See the dentist as soon as possible

Lost Crown

  • Try slipping the crown back over the tooth with a coating of toothpaste, dental cement, or denture adhesive
  • Book an appointment to see the dentist as soon as possible (bring the crown with you if you weren’t able to slip it back over the tooth) 

Soft Tissue Injuries

  • Rinse repeatedly with warm water
  • Apply a tea bag or gauze to the area, pressing firmly for about 15 minutes
  • Apply a cold compress to the outside area
  • If bleeding continues, come to our dental clinic

It is not recommended to put aspirin or other painkillers directly on the gums as this may burn the gum tissue.

Take Steps to Avoid a Dental Emergency

The best thing to do is to avoid an emergency involving your teeth and mouth. There are steps you can take to help prevent these situations from happening:

  • Use scissors rather than teeth to open up packages and bottles
  • Wear a mouthguard when playing sports
  • Get regular dental exams and checkups and maintain good oral health
  • Avoid chewing ice or hard candy that can crack a tooth
  • Don’t chew on pen caps or bite your nails

Contact Us for Emergency Dental Care

Even if you have seen a doctor or been to an emergency room for pain, it is still important to see an emergency dentist to figure out what the underlying issue is. Therefore, book an appointment with a dentist as soon as you can to look at the impacted teeth and gums. 

We often have walk-in or same-day appointments for emergency dental services. Contact us at 604-943-9798 and tell us about your situation and we will do our best to accommodate you and provide dental treatment. Our Tsawwassen dental clinic is easily accessible from Ladner and Delta, just off 56 street. 

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay