Sooner or later, everyone faces a dental emergency.
Dental emergencies can range from the minor, such as a chipped tooth, to the much more serious, such as a broken or knocked-out tooth. It is critically important that you understand what to do in a dental emergency before you have a dental emergency.
The most important first step you can take is to make sure you have your dentist’s contact number at any time. Time is critical in a dental emergency, and the sooner you can contact your dentist the better the outcome of any possible dental emergency will be.
Here is a quick guide to help you deal with the most common dental emergencies:
A chipped tooth
Depending on the severity, a chipped tooth may not require immediate, emergency dental care, but should be evaluated by your dentist as soon as possible.
- If the chip is on an edge, seems relatively minor, and doesn’t hurt, it shouldn’t require immediate dental care.
- If it is a large or noticeable chip or causes pain, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist. Depending on the severity of the chip, may be able to smooth out the surface of the tooth, or add filler material to repair and smooth the contour of the tooth.
A cracked or broken tooth
A cracked or broken teeth may have serious internal damage and should be considered a dental emergency that requires immediate treatment.
- Thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm water
- If the damage was caused by a blow to the head or face, or by a fall, apply a cold compress to the area to reduce swelling
- If you are experiencing pain, take a non-aspirin pain reliever, such as acetaminophen
- Call your dentist immediately for emergency treatment
Loose tooth or tooth knocked out of alignment
A loose tooth or one that has been forcefully knocked out of alignment is a dental emergency that requires immediate attention.
- If the tooth is simply loose, call your dentist for an urgent appointment.
- If the tooth has knocked out of alignment with neighboring teeth, try to gently re-align it using very minimal force, then call your dentist for an urgent appointment.
A forcefully misaligned tooth is a dental emergency that requires immediate attention
- If the tooth is loose, call you dentist immediately for an urgent appointment.
- If the tooth is knocked out of alignment, try to gently re-align it with the neighboring teeth using very minimal force, then call your dentist for an urgent appointment.
Tooth knocked out
A knocked-out tooth is one of the most serious dental emergencies most people will face and is one that requires immediate attention.
- Gently pick up the tooth by the crown. The root is very, very delicate and should not be touched if at all possible.
- Using great care, gently rinse the tooth with cool water. Do not scrub, brush, or otherwise try to clean up the tooth – remember, the attached root is very delicate and can be easily destroyed.
- If possible, carefully place the tooth back into the socket and hold it in place while gently biting down. If you are unable to re-seat the tooth, place it in a small container containing milk.
- Call your dentist immediately for emergency treatment so that they can attempt to re-implant the tooth into the socket. Time is critical – a tooth should ideally be re-implanted within 30 minutes of being knocked out. The likelihood of a successful re-implant procedure decreases every additional minute the tooth is out of the socket.
This guide covers only the most common dental emergencies.
Contact your dentist for more information on how to deal with any dental emergencies not covered in this guide.