What to Do in a Dental Emergency: Immediate Actions for Common Crises

May 7, 2024 | Blog

Emergency Toothache

When a dental emergency strikes, the sharp pain, shock, and urgency can cloud your judgment on what steps to take next. Understanding how to react can not only save your tooth but also significantly reduce the chances of further complications. This guide walks you through common dental emergencies, offering clear, practical advice for those critical moments.

Immediate Steps for Common Dental Emergencies

1. Knocked-Out Tooth

Imagine you’re playing a friendly game of basketball, and an accidental elbow to the face dislodges a tooth. First, locate the tooth and pick it up by the crown, avoiding the root. Rinse it gently under water without scrubbing. Reinsert the tooth into the socket and hold it in place by biting down on a clean cloth if possible. If reinsertion isn’t feasible, keep the tooth moist by placing it in a glass of milk or holding it inside your cheek until you can get to a dentist. Time is critical—getting to a dentist within 30 minutes can make the difference between saving and losing the tooth.

2. Severe Toothache

A toothache can turn an ordinary day into an unbearable one. First, rinse your mouth with warm water to clean it out. Check for food lodged around the sore tooth and remove it using dental floss carefully. Avoid placing aspirin directly against the gums near the aching tooth, as this can burn gum tissue. If the pain persists, a cold compress on the outside cheek can help reduce pain and swelling. Contact your dentist promptly—persistent toothaches can signal serious infections needing immediate care.

3. Broken Crowns

If a crown falls off, it is crucial to find and safely store it. Try slipping the crown back over the tooth before going to the dentist, using dental cement, toothpaste, or denture adhesive to help hold it in place temporarily. Avoid using superglue! See your dentist as soon as possible. A missing crown leaves your tooth susceptible to damage and decay.

When to Seek Professional Help

Dental emergencies often require professional intervention to prevent the situation from worsening. Here are scenarios when you should see a dentist immediately:

  • Uncontrollable Bleeding: Following trauma to your mouth, if you experience heavy bleeding that doesn’t stop with pressure, seek emergency dental or medical help.
  • Severe Pain: If pain disrupts your ability to eat, sleep, or concentrate, and over-the-counter pain relievers do not provide relief, a dentist’s intervention is necessary.
  • Signs of Infection: Swelling, foul taste, fever, or pus indicates infection. Such symptoms require urgent care to prevent the spread of infection.


While dental emergencies can be alarming, knowing how to respond can alleviate pain and potentially save your teeth. Always keep your dentist’s contact information handy for quick access in emergencies. Remember, swift action and calm decision-making are your best allies in preserving your dental health during an emergency.

This guide equips you with the knowledge to handle sudden dental crises confidently. Still, regular check-ups and maintaining good oral hygiene can prevent many such emergencies. Stay proactive about your dental health—it’s crucial to your overall well-being.

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