Most Common Dental Emergencies (and What to Do About Them)

There are lots of different types of emergencies, but they all have one thing in common: They’re not planned. That’s the nature of emergencies — they tend to happen when we least expect them. The key to “fixing” any type of emergency is knowing what to do in the immediate period after the emergency occurs. For dental emergencies, prompt care is essential to prevent a problem from becoming worse, as well as to relieve any associated pain. Here’s a quick review of some of the most common types of dental emergencies and what steps you should take to protect and preserve your oral health.

What issues are considered dental emergencies?

When it comes to dental emergencies, many people think in terms of having a tooth that’s knocked out or badly broken. But actually, other issues require emergency care, as well. Some of the most common dental emergencies include:

A good rule of thumb: Any issue that causes pain in any part of your mouth or dysfunction in the way you bite, chew, speak or swallow is an emergency that needs prompt medical care. In fact, any time you have pain or any other unusual symptom, you should call A Beautiful Smile Dentistry right away to find out the steps you should take to correct the problem. In most cases, you’ll need an office visit, but in some cases, you can wait until the next day to be seen. Other times, such as when a tooth is knocked out, you need to have treatment right away — ideally within 30 to 60 minutes of losing the tooth.

What to do in a dental emergency

Dental emergencies always require a call to the office. But, depending on the nature of the emergency, there are some other steps you should take, as well.

Knocked-out tooth

Losing a permanent tooth is never a good thing, but when tooth loss is associated with a traumatic event like a fall or other accident, it can be especially upsetting. The good news is that sometimes the tooth can be replanted. The key is to seek medical care within a half-hour to an hour when possible.

If you have a tooth that’s knocked out, rinse it off gently with cool or lukewarm water, being very careful not to touch the root part. Then, try placing it back in the socket. Bite down gently on a clean cloth to hold it in place while you head to our office; if it’s after-hours, head to the emergency room. If you can’t place the tooth in the socket, put it in a glass of milk or water and bring it with you.


Place a clean cloth or a piece of sterile gauze over the laceration and hold it in place to stop the bleeding. Call the office immediately or come in for an appointment, especially if the cut is deep.


Cavities may be the most common cause of tooth pain, but they’re not the only cause. You can relieve the discomfort with over-the-counter pain medicine like ibuprofen. And you can also try chewing on the opposite side of your mouth to avoid irritating the area temporarily. But you also need to call the office right away to prevent the underlying problem from becoming worse.

Swollen gums

Swollen gums typically are a sign of an infection, either of the gum or of the tooth or tooth root. You can reduce the swelling by rinsing with a solution of salty water and by taking over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen. Call the office to set up an exam, so we can find out what’s causing the swelling.

Foreign objects

If you have an object lodged in your teeth, try to dislodge it gently using dental floss. Don’t use other tools to poke or prod your teeth or gums, or you might wind up causing more damage. If the object still won’t budge, call the office or come in for an appointment.

Dr. Jin is skilled in treating all sorts of dental emergencies, helping patients relieve painful symptoms while preventing the underlying problem from becoming worse. If you’re experiencing a dental emergency, call the office right away. And to learn how A Beautiful Smile Dentistry can help you improve your oral health and reduce the risks of emergency issues, book an appointment online today.

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