What to Do in a Dental Emergency: Essential Guide and Tips

Understanding Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies can arise from various situations requiring prompt action to alleviate pain, prevent further damage, or even to save a tooth. Such emergencies include not only knocked-out teeth and severe toothaches but also injuries to the gums, cheeks, and lips, broken braces wires, and objects caught between teeth.

Responding to Common Dental Emergencies

  • Severe Toothache or Abscess: Beyond rinsing and using floss, applying a cold compress to the face for pain relief is advisable. For abscesses, which are infections at the tooth's root or between the gums, immediate dental attention is critical to prevent the spread of infection.
  • Lost Fillings or Crowns: While waiting for dental care, sugar-free gum can be placed into the cavity as a temporary measure if dental cement is not available. Always check with a dental professional first, though. Also, avoid hot or cold foods and beverages to reduce sensitivity.
  • Bleeding After Tooth Extraction: If gauze or a tea bag does not control bleeding, a slight elevation of the head and avoiding physical exertion can help minimize bleeding. Persistent bleeding after 24 hours requires immediate dental consultation.
  • Knocked-Out Tooth: The success of reimplanting a knocked-out tooth decreases after the first 30 minutes. Do not attempt to clean the tooth with soap or chemicals; simply rinse it with water.
From Tooth Aches to Swollen gums read about what to do in a dental emergency

Temporary Pain and Swelling Relief

  • Saltwater rinses can also soothe swollen gums and cleanse the oral cavity.
  • For jaw pain, a warm compress may provide relief in addition to cold compresses for other areas.

Creating a Dental First Aid Kit

Adding a small save-a-tooth storage container with a cell growth medium can significantly increase the chances of saving a knocked-out tooth. Also, include a dental mirror to help in examining hard-to-see areas.

When to Seek Emergency Dental Care

You should seek emergency dental care including but not limited to scenarios like:

  • Significant cracks or fractures in teeth
  • Serious injuries to the soft tissues of the mouth, such as punctures or lacerations
  • Abscesses with severe swelling, possibly extending into the neck, causing difficulty breathing or swallowing

Common Solutions

  • How to handle a cracked or broken tooth: Rinse your mouth, apply a cold compress, and avoid chewing with the damaged tooth to prevent further harm.
  • Dealing with braces or wires causing injury: Apply orthodontic wax to sharp ends. If a wire can be safely moved, use a pencil eraser to push it to a less intrusive position.

Preventing Dental Emergencies

Emphasize the importance of not only regular dental checkups but also proper nutrition and avoiding hard candies or ice that can crack teeth. Stress the significance of immediate dental consultations when early signs of discomfort or abnormalities appear.


Expanded knowledge and preparation for dental emergencies can greatly improve outcomes. Immediate, appropriate actions paired with swift professional care are paramount in effectively managing such situations.


What are some quick fixes for a dental emergency until I can see a dentist?
Quick fixes include using over-the-counter pain relievers, cold compresses for swelling, and temporary dental cement for dislodged crowns.

How do I find an emergency dentist quickly?
You can call your regular dentist for an emergency referral or search online for local emergency dental services.

What preventative measures can I take to avoid dental emergencies?
Regular dental checkups, proper oral hygiene, wearing mouthguards during sports, and avoiding using teeth as tools can help prevent emergencies.

Is it safe to treat a dental emergency at home?
While some immediate actions can be taken at home, it's crucial to seek professional dental care as soon as possible.

In summary, knowing how to react in a dental emergency can make a significant difference in outcomes. Always prioritize getting to a dentist or emergency dental clinic as quickly as possible for professional care.