List of Dental Emergencies
Rinse your mouth with warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water) or diluted hydrogen peroxide. Use dental floss to remove any lodged food from between your teeth. If your mouth is swollen, place an ice pack outside of your mouth or cheek. Do not put aspirin or any other painkiller against the gums near the aching tooth because it may burn the gum tissue. Call us as soon as possible.
Chipped or broken teeth
Save any pieces of the tooth if you can. Rinse the mouth using warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water); rinse any broken pieces. If there’s bleeding, apply a piece of gauze to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Place an ice pack to the outside of the mouth, cheek, or lip near the broken/chipped tooth to keep any swelling down and relieve pain. Call us as soon as possible.
Retrieve the tooth, hold it by the crown (the part that is usually exposed in the mouth), and rinse off the tooth root with water if it’s dirty. Do not remove any attached tissue fragments or scrub the tooth. If possible, try to put the tooth back in place. Make sure it’s facing the right way. Never force it into the socket. If it’s not possible to reinsert the tooth in the socket, put the tooth in a small container of milk or a product containing cell growth medium, such as Save-a-Tooth. In all cases, see your dentist as quickly as possible. Knocked out teeth with the highest chances of being saved are those seen by the dentist and returned to their socket within 1 hour of being knocked out.
Extruded (partially dislodged) tooth
See your dentist right away. Place an ice pack or any cold compress outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area to relieve the pain, until you reach your dentist’s office. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever (such as Tylenol or Advil) if needed.
Objects caught between teeth
First, try using dental floss to very gently and carefully remove the object. If you can’t get the object out, see your dentist. Never use a pin or other sharp object to poke at the stuck object. All that will do is push the object further into the gums and worsen the pain. These instruments can cut your gums or scratch your tooth surface.
As a temporary measure, use an over-the-counter dental cement, or any dental wax to cover the tooth. Do not chew gum or anything with sugar, as it will increase the pain. See your dentist as soon as possible.
If the crown falls off, make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible and bring the crown with you. If you can’t get to the dentist right away and the tooth is causing pain, place the crown back on the tooth if possible. Before doing so, coat the inner surface with an over-the-counter dental cement, toothpaste, or denture glue, to help hold the crown in place. Do not use super glue! Take a painkiller until you see your dentist.
Broken braces wires
If a wire breaks or sticks out of a bracket or band and is poking your cheek, tongue, or gum, try using the eraser end of a pencil to push the wire into a more comfortable position. If you can’t reposition the wire, cover the end with orthodontic wax, a small cotton ball, or a piece of gauze until you can get to your orthodontist’s office. Never cut the wire, as you could end up swallowing it or breathing it into your lungs.
Loose brackets and bands
Temporarily reattach loose braces with a small piece of orthodontic wax. Alternatively, place the wax over the braces to provide a cushion. See your orthodontist as soon as possible. If the problem is a loose band, save it and call your orthodontist for an appointment to have it recemented or replaced (and to have the missing spacers replaced).
Abscesses are infections that occur around the root of a tooth or in the space between the teeth and gums. Abscesses are a serious condition that can damage tissue and surrounding teeth, with the infection possibly spreading to other parts of the body if left untreated.
Because of the serious oral health and general health problems that can result from an abscess, see your dentist as soon as possible if you discover a pimple-like swelling on your gum that usually is painful. In the meantime, to ease the pain and draw the pus toward the surface, try rinsing your mouth with a warm salt water solution (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water) several times a day.
Injuries to the soft tissues, which include the tongue, cheeks, gums, and lips, can result in bleeding. To control the bleeding, here’s what to do:
Rinse your mouth with a warm salt-water solution (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water).
Use a moistened piece of gauze or a tea bag to apply pressure to the bleeding site. Hold in place for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bleeding stops.
To both control bleeding and relieve pain, hold a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area for 5 to 10 minutes.
- If the bleeding doesn’t stop, see your dentist right away or go to a hospital emergency room. Continue to apply pressure on the bleeding site with the gauze until you can be seen and treated.