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Emergency Dentistry: What to Do When Dental Disaster Strikes

Woman holding her jaw looking unhappy.


Dental emergencies can happen to anyone, at any time, often without warning. Whether it’s a sudden toothache, a knocked-out tooth, or a broken crown, knowing how to respond can make a significant difference in the outcome and may even save a tooth. This article provides guidance on handling common dental emergencies, preventive measures to avoid them, and the importance of having an emergency dentist.


Common Dental Emergencies and Immediate Actions


Knocked-Out Tooth

If a tooth is knocked out, time is of the essence. Retrieve the tooth by the crown (the part that is visible in the mouth), avoiding touching the root. Rinse it gently with water if it’s dirty, but do not scrub. If possible, reinsert it into the socket and hold it in place with a clean cloth or gauze. If reinsertion isn’t possible, place the tooth in a cup of milk or a saltwater solution. Seek emergency dental care immediately; a tooth that’s reimplanted within an hour has the best chance of being saved.


Severe Toothache

For a severe toothache, rinse the mouth with warm water to clean it out. Gently use dental floss to remove any food caught between the teeth. If the pain persists, contact your dentist as soon as possible. Avoid putting aspirin on the aching tooth or gum tissues, as this can burn the gum tissue.


Broken, Chipped, or Cracked Tooth

If a tooth is broken, chipped, or cracked, rinse your mouth with warm water immediately to clean the area. Apply a cold compress to the face to reduce swelling. Visit your dentist as soon as possible. A broken tooth can affect not just the appearance of your smile but can also lead to further dental issues if not treated promptly.


Lost Filling or Crown

If a filling or crown comes out, keep it in a safe place and avoid chewing on the affected side of your mouth. Temporary dental cement, available at most pharmacies, can be used to cover the exposed tooth surface. This is a temporary solution until you can see your dentist.


Preventing Dental Emergencies

While not all dental emergencies can be avoided, here are some precautions to help minimize the risk:

  • Wear a mouthguard during sports or recreational activities.
  • Avoid chewing on hard foods, ice, and objects that can crack or chip your teeth.
  • Use scissors, not your teeth, to cut things.
  • Maintain regular dental check-ups to detect and treat problems early.


The Role of an Emergency Dentist

Having an emergency dentist’s contact information readily available can be a lifesaver in a dental crisis. An emergency dentist can provide immediate care to alleviate pain, prevent infections, and save teeth. They are equipped to handle urgent dental situations and can give you the best advice over the phone on what to do until you can reach their office.



Dental emergencies require quick thinking and immediate action. Knowing how to respond effectively can help prevent further damage and ensure the best possible outcome. Regular dental check-ups and good oral hygiene can help prevent some emergencies, but accidents happen. Always have the contact information for your emergency dentist handy, and don’t hesitate to seek professional help when a dental disaster strikes. Remember, the quicker you act, the better your chances of saving your smile.

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