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What to do in Case of a Dental Emergency

Like any type of emergency, dental emergencies strike when you least expect. Whether you chip a tooth, lose a filling, or break a crown, a dental emergency can be a painful and disorientating experience. Injuries to your teeth and gums can cause serious harm to your long term health and seeking treatment shouldn’t be ignored or delayed. But unlike breaking a bone or needing stitches, many people find they don’t know what steps to take immediately following a dental emergency. Knowing what to do following a dental emergency can help easy your pain, and reduce the chance of any complications.



A variety of problems can cause a toothache, including cavities, nerve issues, and gum disease. If you experience a toothache, thoroughly cleanse your mouth with warm water, and then use floss to remove any food that might have become lodged around the tooth. If you experience swelling, apply a cold compress to the affected area. Unlike what you might have heard, never apply ground up aspirin or any other painkiller to the gums surround the affect tooth, as that might burn the gum tissue. Contact your dentist to schedule an appointment if the pain persists for more than an hour.

Broken or Chipped Tooth


Immediately rinse your mouth after breaking or chipping any tooth with warm water to remove any pieces of the tooth from your mouth. Chipped pieces of tooth could become lodged in your windpipe if not immediately removed. To top any bleeding, apply pressure to the area using a clean piece of cloth or gauze. Apply a cold compress to the area of your cheek, mouth, or lip nearest the broken tooth. Make sure to save any pieces of your tooth you recover, and bring them with you when visiting the dentist’s office.

Lost Tooth


Collect the tooth, and wash off the root of the tooth with water if dirty. Do not scrub away any tissue or root fragments that remain attached to the tooth. Attempt to place the tooth back into its socket, making sure you have the tooth facing the correct direction, if possible. Don’t force the tooth back into the socket, as that can cause damage to the your tooth’s roots. If you cannot place the tooth back into its slot, place it in a small container filled with either milk or salt water. Contact your dentist immediately. The sooner you get to your dentist, the better your odds of being able to have the tooth successfully reattached.

Lost Filling/Crown


Lost fillings or crown can expose your tooth’s nerve, and can cause severe discomfort. If you lose a filling, place a piece of sugar free gum in the hole as a temporary patch until you get to the dentist’s office. For a lost crown, you can apply clove oil to the area to help easy any pain or sensitivity. If you can find the crown, try to reapply it to the area by using either a dental cement or toothpaste as an adhesive until you can schedule a dental appointment.

Timothy Lemke blogs about oral health topics for Dr. Ben Aandeurd, a Sherwood dentist at Pacific Family Dental.

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