How to Handle Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies can happen to anyone and at any time – knowing how to handle dental emergencies can improve their outcome. Being prepared also helps you avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency dentist in Bloomington, IL.  

How to Handle Your Next Dental Emergency

Be prepared

Being prepared for dental emergencies can save time, prevent unnecessary anxiety and drama, and improve the outcome. Have a dental emergency kit that contains:

  • Gloves  
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Floss to remove foreign objects from between teeth
  • Dental mirror
  • Gauze
  • Dental wax to protect tissue from sharp objects
  • Cold/hot compress
  • Over-the-counter pain reliever
  • Non-prescription tooth preservation product for knocked-out teeth

Identify dental emergency

Dental emergencies come in all shapes and sizes. The most common types of dental emergencies include:

  • Broken teeth
  • Abscess
  • Toothache
  • Something caught in the teeth
  • Loose tooth
  • Knocked out tooth
  • Bitten tongue or lip
  • Lost crown or filling

Call your emergency dentist for further instruction

Your local dentist can give you specific instructions for the type of dental emergency you are experiencing. They can also help you determine if you need emergency care, and whether you should receive that care at their office or a hospital emergency department.  

Take action appropriate to the dental emergency

Broken tooth

Rinse and save any pieces of broken tooth that you can find. Using warm water, rinse your mouth gently. If the tooth is bleeding, apply pressure to the broken tooth with a piece of gauze until the bleeding stops. Put a cold compress on the outside of your mouth near the broken tooth to ease any pain you may have. Get to the emergency dentist as soon as possible.  

Severe toothache

Rinsing your mouth thoroughly with warm water can remove debris stuck between teeth or in cavities, reduce swelling, and disinfect the area. Next, use dental floss to remove any food or objects lodged between teeth or in gums. Apply a cold compress to the affected area outside of your mouth. Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or aspirin. Never apply aspirin or other analgesics directly to your teeth or gums, as they may burn your gum tissue.  

Completely knocked-out tooth

Find and rinse the tooth. Try putting the tooth back into its socket, taking care to face the tooth in the right direction. Do not force it into place.

If you cannot put the tooth back in, your emergency dentist may be able to. Save it in a tooth preservation product, a cup of milk, or water with a pinch of salt in it, and bring it to the dentist. Get to the dentist as soon as possible, as your emergency dentist has the best chance of saving the tooth if it is returned to its socket within an hour.  

Partially dislodged tooth

See your emergency dentist right away. In the meantime, take a non-prescription pain reliever and apply a cold compress to the area to reduce pain.  

Dental abscess

A dental abscess is a pimple-like infection that can develop in the space between your teeth and gums, or along the roots of your teeth. An abscess is a serious condition that can damage affected gum tissue and nearby teeth. In some cases, an untreated abscess can cause your face or jaw to swell up; the infection may even spread to other parts of your body.  

See your dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime, rinse with a mild saltwater solution (1/2 teaspoon of salt dissolved into 8 ounces of water) several times a day to ease pain and to draw out the infection.  

Lost or broken dental work

Old dental restorations can break or even come completely out. Contact your dentist immediately.  

  • Stop the pain of a missing filling by sticking a piece of sugarless gum into the cavity.
  • Try putting the dental crown or bridge back into place using an over-the-counter dental cement – never use a superglue!

Soft tissue injury

Severe injuries to soft tissue, such as your tongue, cheeks, gums, or lips, require immediate attention. Bleeding is common in soft tissue injuries, and it can be severe. To control any bleeding of these soft tissues:

  • Rinse your mouth with a mild saltwater solution
  • Apply pressure to the injury with moist gauze or a caffeinated tea bag (tea contains tannic acid that shrinks blood vessels and slows bleeding)
  • Hold a compress to the outside of your mouth over the injury area – this also helps control pain
  • If the bleeding does not stop, continue holding pressure to the injury and see your dentist right away

Handling dental emergencies are never easy, but knowing what to do can reduce panic and improve outcomes. For more information about handling dental emergencies, contact your Bloomington dentist at Liberty Family Dentistry.  

If you are having a dental emergency, call Liberty Family Dentistry right away at (812) 732-0627

Contact Us To Learn More
Contact Us