How to Handle Common Dental Emergencies


You carry around a first aid kit in your car for emergencies, but are you prepared for a dental emergency? Do you know what to do when your tooth starts aching or cracks in the middle of the night?

We know emergencies are never expected, and rarely occur during normal business hours. That’s why it’s best to keep this tips up your sleeve, just in case it happens to you or your loved ones.

What is a dental emergency?

Dental Emergency is a pretty broad term. It includes any issue involving your teeth or surrounding tissue that needs urgent professional attention. They’re not always painful, but in most cases it’s the first sign to seek help.

Types of Dental Emergencies

1. Dental Pain

Pain in your teeth and the adjacent tissue can be a sign of periodontal disease, or an indicator of the health of your dental pulp. These are questions your dentist can answer with a thorough exam.

2. Dental Trauma

Dental trauma includes fractures to any part of your tooth, including the enamel, root or crown.

3. Restorative emergencies

Restorative emergencies concern the dental hardware in your mouth like fillings, crowns, dentures or implants.

4. Oral Medical Conditions

There are a number of emergency medical conditions affecting your oral cavity that are not caused by your teeth or appliances. These include facial swelling, hemorrhage, post-operative swelling and post-extraction pain or infection (dry socket).


Obviously, all dental emergencies should be taken seriously and you should seek treatment with a dental professional as soon as possible. But if you have to wait a few hours, here are some tips to curb your pain and discomfort:

For dental pain, first try rinsing your mouth with warm water and flossing remove anything that may be lodged in your teeth. Then try aspirin or ibuprofen, heat or ice, and a topical gel to numb the area that hurts.

For dry socket, clean the area with saline and use a cotton ball or sterile gauze to protect that spot from air.

When you chip a tooth, be sure to first rinse your mouth with warm water to remove any small fragments that broke off. If any of those pieces are large enough to see, save them for your dentist. Place gauze over the tooth to prevent bleeding of your gums and use a cold compress.

Tooth just jumped ship? Hold it by the crown and rinse it off, but be careful not to remove any tissue that’s still attached. If you cannot reinsert the tooth on your way to the dentist, store it in a cup of salt water or milk.

If you lose a crown, which happens occasionally, you can try to reattach it temporarily with Vaseline until you make it into the office (please, do not use glue!). Make sure you bring it with you, since it may be salvageable.

Dental abscess? This infection should be treated as soon as possible! Rinsing with warm water will help with the pain and swelling, but your best option is to see your dentist STAT.