What To Do When You Have a Dental Emergency

What is a dental emergency

An emergency of any kind can be troubling. Sometimes those emergencies can involve your oral health and require an unexpected trip to the dentist. Some dental emergencies can be more urgent than others and may even require a trip to the emergency room, but it’s important to also be in communication with your dental professional when an accident occurs. If a dental issue goes untreated, it could increase the risk of permanent injury or tooth loss, or even be potentially life-threatening. Inform your dentist of any emergency and try to provide them with all of the information pertaining to the situation.

Common dental emergencies

What To Do When You Have a Dental Emergency

Chipped, cracked, or missing teeth

Having a tooth chip or crack can be a scary situation, but don’t panic. If your tooth cracks, immediately use warm water to rinse out your mouth and contact your dentist as soon as possible. If you notice swelling, apply a cold compress to the area. You may also apply gauze to the area if bleeding. If you are able to recover any pieces of the cracked tooth, try to save them, as some fractures in certain situations may be repairable. If your tooth is completely knocked out of the socket, immediately head to your dentist’s office with the tooth as soon as possible. Touch the tooth only by the dental crown, avoiding touching the root. If the tooth is a permanent adult tooth, rinse the tooth and try to lightly place it back into the socket in its correct position. Avoid scrubbing or removing any tissue from the root. If unable to do so, the next best option is to try to keep the tooth in your cheeks or gums. If neither of these storage methods is possible, place the tooth in milk or use a tooth preservation product that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Avoid placing the tooth in water. Teeth that are replanted and treated by your dentist in less than an hour have an increased chance of surviving. If your child loses a baby tooth due to trauma, do not place the tooth back into the socket, but visit your dentist as soon as possible.

Tooth or Gum Abscess

Dental abscesses are infections that can appear on your gums in between your teeth or near the roots of your teeth. They often resemble a pimple or swelling and are typically painful. Abscesses can be life-threatening, as the infection can spread to other parts of the body if untreated. Visit your dental professional or a health professional immediately.


Toothaches are common, and you’ve likely suffered the upsetting pain of a toothache at some point in your life. Rinse your mouth with warm water and gently use dental floss to remove any food particles stuck between your teeth. Contact your dentist for a visit as soon as possible.

Mouth Pain

If you’re experiencing mouth pain it is important to contact your dentist right away for them to help find the cause. Mouth pain can be common in individuals experiencing a toothache, sinus problems, or gum disease for instance.

Bitten/cut tongue or cheek

Aching gums or a cut tongue due to injury can be painful and cause bleeding. Clean the area with water or a salt-water solution and apply a cold compress to help stop the bleeding. If severe bleeding or pain, be sure to contact your dentist immediately or visit an emergency room.

Broken braces wires or brackets

For individuals with braces, you may have a situation in which the wire breaks or slides out of the bracket tubes and becomes pokey. If this occurs, try placing the wire into a more comfortable position, or place orthodontic wax or a small piece of gauze in the area of pain. Avoid trying to cut the wire or remove any appliances. Contact your orthodontist as soon as possible to inform them of the situation.

Jaw pain and other dental emergencies

Jaw pain may be accompanied by altered taste, swelling, fever, or trouble swallowing. If you are experiencing severe jaw pain or believe your jaw may be broken, immediately see your dentist or emergency care.

What to do if you have a dental emergency

If you experience a dental emergency, one of the most important things to do is to contact your dentist’s office immediately. If you’re experiencing prolonged pain or severe symptoms, seek medical help immediately.

What not to do in a dental emergency situation

One of the best things not to do in a dental emergency is to panic. Try to remain as calm as possible so that you can take the necessary steps to handle the situation. If experiencing a toothache, don’t place aspirin or any other medication on your tooth or gums, as this can damage your oral tissues.

Preventing dental emergencies

Being prepared and cautious can help lower your chances of experiencing a dental emergency. Avoid using your teeth as tools to help you open items such as bottles or presents. In addition, don’t chew ice, pencils, or other hard items which easily cause tooth injuries. If playing sports, be sure to wear a mouthguard to help protect your teeth and jaws from damage.

Who to contact and when to go to a dentist

Dental emergencies can be managed by your dentist and they should be contacted as soon as possible. If you’re experiencing severe symptoms and are unable to reach your dentist, seek immediate help from a medical professional or emergency care.

Our doctors and dental specialists provide a wide range of dental services at our 40+ multi-specialty dental offices across Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Our dental team is compassionate, and our main goal is to provide you a comfortable, caring dental experience. Book an appointment at your local Gentle Dental today.