What to do for a Dental Emergency

While most dental emergencies can be avoided with proper oral care, dental emergencies can still happen- whether from an injury, recurring problem, or newly undiscovered problem. In those moments, it can be difficult to know what to do for a dental emergency. If you’ve ever had a dental emergency, particularly on the weekend or when your dentist’s office may be closed, the pain and remedies for what you’re experiencing can sometimes be unbearable.

Below are some tips on what to do for a dental emergency that you may experience.


If you are experiencing pain in a tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water and try using dental floss to remove any food that may be lodged around the tooth or surrounding gums. If your mouth is swollen, apply a cold compress to the outside of your face to try and reduce the swelling. You may also take an aspirin or painkiller to help ease the pain, but do not directly apply the medication against the gums. This could burn the gums and tissue around the tooth and make matters worse. Do not ignore the pain and simply hope that it goes away on its own. Toothaches are usually a sign of an issue with your tooth or gums that require attention. Contact your dentist’s office immediately and inquire about coming in to see the dentist as soon as possible.

Objects Stuck in Teeth

If you have something stuck in your teeth, you can first try using dental floss to carefully remove the object. It’s important to be very gentle and use the floss with care as you don’t want to cause damage to the gums or lodge the object further. If you are unable to remove the object from your teeth, contact your dentist immediately. You should never use any sharp objects, like a pin or needle, to try and remove the stuck object. You can cause more damage to your gums and teeth.

Chipped or Broken Tooth

If you have either chipped or broken a tooth, if possible try to save any pieces that you break off. Rinse off any broken pieces and safely store in a Ziploc bag to take to the dentist. Rinse your mouth with warm water and apply a cold compress to the outside of your face, near the chipped or broken tooth. This can help to relieve any pain or swelling. If you are bleeding, apply a piece of gauze or tissue to the area until the bleeding stops. You will definitely want to see your dentist as soon as possible to get your tooth fixed and to avoid any infection or additional problems.

Knocked Out a Tooth

One of the most common dental emergencies is some type of accident or sports injury that results in a tooth getting knocked out. First, do your best to retrieve the tooth. Also, despite what some recommend, do not try to put the tooth back in place. If the tooth is not properly cleaned or did not break cleanly, you can risk infection. Place the tooth in a Ziploc bag to take to the dentist. You should immediately contact your dentist’s office and get in to see your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you can see your dentist following a tooth getting knocked out of place, the more likely your dentist will be able to save your tooth.

Lost Crown or Filling

If you have a crown or filling, you may experience at some point either one falling out. If a crown falls out, it is imperative that you try to get in to see your dentist as soon as possible. If you can retrieve your crown, be sure to bring the crown with you. If you can’t get in to see your dentist right away and the tooth is causing you pain, you can apply a little bit of clove oil with a cotton swab. This will help relieve some of the pain in the sensitive area. If you can slip the crown back over the tooth, you can use dental cement, denture adhesive or even toothpaste to help hold the crown in place until you’re able to see your dentist. You should not use any other type of glue or adhesive to try to keep the crown in place. If you lose a filling, you can temporarily use dental cement or even some sugar-free gum into the cavity until you can get in and see your dentist.

Soft Tissue Injury

Your mouth has a lot of soft tissue, including your gums, cheek, tongue, and lips. Whenever you injure any of these soft tissues in and around your mouth, there’s a good chance that it will result in bleeding. To help control any bleeding of injuries to the soft tissue of your mouth you can rinse your mouth with a mild solution of salt water. Then place a piece of gauze or tissue in place for 10 to 15 minutes. You can also apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek to help relieve any pain. If the bleeding does not stop after 20 minutes, contact your dentist right away or go to the nearest hospital emergency room to get immediate care. Make sure that you continue to apply pressure with gauze or tissue until you are treated.


An abscess is an infection in and around the root of the tooth or the spaces between the gums and teeth. If you notice a small bump (similar to a pimple) on the gum that is painful, be sure to contact your dentist right away. You can rinse your mouth with a mild solution of salt water to help ease the pain and treat it, but abscesses pose a serious risk to not only your oral health, but your general health. Left untreated, abscesses can begin to infect and damage other tissues surrounding the teeth and throughout the mouth, potentially spreading into the rest of the body. This is a condition you simply cannot and do not want to ignore, so be sure to contact the dentist immediately and get in for care as soon as possible!

In conclusion, dental emergencies are going to happen from time to time. As you can see, most issues should not be ignored and require some type of dental care to prevent infection or further complications. Proper dental and oral care on a daily basis at home, as well as regular dental checkups, can prevent a number of dental emergencies from happening in the first place.

If you need to know what to do for a dental emergency and are in need of an emergency dentist in the Glendora and Los Angeles area, look no further. Dr. Sachin P. Desai, D.D.S. and his friendly staff at Glendora Family Dentistry are experienced in helping patients with dental emergencies and are happy to help you! Contact us at (626) 914-0500 or request an appointment online.

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