Emergency Dental Care: A Quick Guide for Dealing with Common Issues

Emergency Dental Care: A Quick Guide for Dealing with Common Issues

Jul 11, 2024

Emergency dental care is vital for addressing unexpected dental issues promptly. From toothaches to soft tissue injuries, knowing how to manage common dental emergencies can help alleviate pain and prevent further complications. This guide will explore the causes, immediate steps, and treatment options for various dental emergencies, empowering you to handle them effectively.

What Qualifies as a Dental Emergency?

A dental emergency refers to any oral health issue that necessitates prompt attention from a dentist to mitigate pain, prevent further damage, or save a tooth. Common examples include severe toothaches, knocked-out teeth, fractured or broken teeth, oral infections, severe gum bleeding, and injuries to the mouth or jaw. Any situation causing significant pain, bleeding, or difficulty eating or speaking may qualify as a dental emergency.


A toothache can be agonizing and may signify underlying dental issues like tooth decay, periodontal disease, or a tooth abscess. Causes may vary, but the pain is often debilitating. Immediate steps to alleviate a toothache include:

  • Rinse the mouth with a little warm salt water to minimize inflammation and bacteria.
  • Use over-the-counter pain relievers, including ibuprofen, to manage pain.
  • Apply a cold compress to the outside of the cheek to numb the area.
  • If the pain persists or is accompanied by swelling, fever, or difficulty swallowing, seek emergency dental care promptly.

Chipped or Broken Tooth

Chipping or breaking a tooth can occur due to trauma, biting on hard objects, or untreated dental decay. While not always painful, a chipped or broken tooth can lead to sensitivity and further damage if left untreated. Immediate steps to manage a chipped or broken tooth include:

  • If feasible, find and preserve any fractured fragments of the tooth.
  • Apply dental wax or sugar-free gum to cover sharp edges and prevent injury to the tongue or cheeks.
  • Avoid chewing on the afflicted side to prevent further damage.
  • Arrange a visit with an emergency dentist near you promptly to evaluate the severity of the injury and establish the necessary treatment.

Knocked-Out Tooth

A knocked-out tooth, or avulsed tooth, requires urgent attention to increase the chances of successful re-implantation. Immediate steps to manage a knocked-out tooth include:

  • Grasp the tooth by the crown (upper portion) and refrain from contacting the root to prevent harm.
  • Rinse the tooth gently with normal water if it’s dirty, but do not scrub or remove any adhering tissue fragments.
  • Attempt to place the tooth back into its socket and secure it by softly biting down on a clean cloth or gauze.
  • If reinserting the tooth is not feasible, immerse it in milk or a saline solution and promptly seek emergency dental assistance.

Lost Filling or Crown

Losing a filling or crown can reveal the underlying tooth structure, causing sensitivity and discomfort. While not always an emergency, it’s vital to address the issue promptly to halt further damage. Temporary measures to protect the tooth include:

  • Using over-the-counter dental cement or temporary filling material to cover the exposed area.
  • Avoiding too sticky or hard foods that may dislodge the filling or crown further.
  • While it may be tempting to try DIY fixes found online, such as using household adhesives or super glue to reattach the filling or crown, it’s crucial to avoid these methods.

Abscessed Tooth

An abscessed tooth is an extreme dental infection marked by a buildup of pus in the tooth or surrounding tissues. Symptoms may comprise an intense toothache, swelling, or fever, along with a foul taste or odor in the mouth. Immediate steps to manage an abscessed tooth include:

  • Avoid eating too hot or cold foods and beverages, as they can worsen sensitivity and cause pain in the affected tooth.
  • Sustain good oral hygiene by gently brushing and flossing around the abscessed tooth. This helps remove bacteria and debris, preventing further infection.
  • Refrain from touching or probing the injured area with your fingers or tongue to prevent further irritation and infection.
  • Seek emergency dental care for drainage of the abscess and antibiotic treatment to prevent further complications.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Injuries to the gums, lips, or cheeks can occur due to accidents, falls, or trauma. While not always dental emergencies, severe soft tissue injuries may require immediate attention. Immediate steps to manage soft tissue injuries include:

  • In case of bleeding, apply mild pressure with a clean gauze or cloth to aid in halting the bleeding.
  • Refrain from consuming spicy or acidic foods that may irritate the affected area and impede the healing process.
  • Consume ample water to maintain hydration and facilitate the healing process.
  • If the injury is severe or stitches are required, seek dental or medical attention promptly.

Tips for Handling Orthodontic Emergencies

Handling orthodontic emergencies requires quick action to alleviate discomfort and prevent further complications. Here are some tips:

  • If a bracket or band becomes detached but remains connected to the wire, leave it in position and cover it with orthodontic wax to avert irritation. If it comes off completely, keep it in a safe place and contact your orthodontist for repair.
  • Utilize a clean cotton swab or the eraser end of a pencil to gently push protruding wires into a more comfortable position. If unable to reposition the wire, cover it with orthodontic wax and seek professional assistance.
  • If a retainer is lost or broken, contact your orthodontist as soon as possible for replacement or repair. In the meantime, continue to wear your most recent retainer to prevent teeth from shifting.

Preventive Measures to Minimize Dental Emergencies

Preventive measures play a pivotal role in curbing dental emergencies and promoting overall oral health. Here are some preventive tips to help reduce the risk of dental emergencies:

  • Maintain a Healthy Diet: Eat a well-rounded diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and dairy products to support overall oral health and strengthen teeth and gums.
  • Use Fluoride Products: Utilize fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash to strengthen tooth enamel and effectively protect against cavities. Your dentist in Newton, Surrey, may also recommend professional fluoride treatments for added protection.
  • Quit Smoking: Tobacco use enhances the risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and oral cancer. If you smoke or consume tobacco products, quitting can majorly improve your oral health and reduce the likelihood of dental emergencies.
  • Practice Stress Management: Stress can add to teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and various other oral health issues. Practice certain relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to lessen stress and protect your oral health.


Being prepared to handle dental emergencies can make a considerable difference in preserving oral health and preventing complications. By understanding the causes, immediate steps, and treatment options for common dental issues, individuals can effectively manage emergencies until they can access professional care. Remember to prioritize regular dental check-ups with a dentist in Newton Centre to maintain optimal oral health and prevent emergencies.

Experiencing a Dental Emergency? Schedule Your Appointment ASAP!

Be proactive about your dental health. Reach out to King George Dental Centre for swift and reliable emergency care. Don’t wait until it’s too late—schedule your appointment today to address any dental issue promptly and effectively. Your comfort and well-being are our top priorities.

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