Emergency Dental Service

Emergency Dental Service

Any injury to the teeth or gums can be potentially serious and should not be ignored. Ignoring a dental problem can increase the risk of permanent damage and the chance for potentially more extensive and expensive treatment down the road. Please call us or walk in today if you need same-day emergency dental care so we can help you temporarily alleviate your dental discomforts.  

Article Index


What Is a Dental Emergency?

A dental emergency is any dental problem that requires immediate attention. Not all dental problems are emergencies. But if you have bleeding that won’t stop, pain that doesn’t get better with medication, or broken facial bones, you need dental emergency care. [1]

Types of Common Dental Emergencies

Although many dental emergencies usually involve pain, many emergencies can be pain-free. If you have lost a filling but aren't feeling any pain, it may still constitute a dental emergency. The most common dental emergencies include the following:


Diagnosis and Tests

How Are Dental Emergencies Diagnosed?

Your dentist will perform a dental examination that should focus on related soft tissue injuries and the need for suturing, signs of tooth loosening, displacement or fracture, and disturbance in the bite or other signs of alveolar fracture. Complete diagnosis requires at least one dental x-ray in all cases. [3]

Signs, Symptoms, Causes, Management, and Treatment

Here's a quick summary of what to do for some common dental problems.

Severe Toothache

First, thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm water. Use dental floss to remove any lodged food. If your mouth is swollen, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth or cheek. Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, naproxen or ibuprofen. (Never use aspirin or other painkillers against your gums or tooth because it may burn your gum tissue.) See your dentist as soon as possible.

Chipped or Broken Teeth

Save any pieces. Rinse the mouth using warm water; rinse any broken pieces. If there's bleeding, apply pressure with a piece of gauze to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth, cheek, or lip near the broken/chipped tooth to keep any swelling down and relieve pain. See one of our dentists as soon as possible.

Knocked-out Teeth

Retrieve the tooth, hold it by the crown (the part usually exposed in the mouth), and rinse the tooth root with water if it's dirty. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. 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 impossible to reinsert the tooth in the socket, put the tooth in a small container of milk. 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. To relieve pain, apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area until you reach your dentist's office. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever (such as Tylenol or Advil) if needed and as directed.

Lost Filling

Sometimes, temporary restorations can be placed in the interim while you are waiting for your reserved appointment for either a crown or new filling to be placed. An appointment to assess the broken tooth is always required before work can be done.

Lost Crown

If the crown falls off, visit 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, use a cotton swab to apply a little clove oil to the sensitive area (clove oil can be purchased at your local drug store or in the spice aisle of your grocery store). If possible, slip the crown back over the tooth. Before doing so, coat the inner surface with an over-the-counter dental cement, toothpaste, or denture adhesive, to help hold the crown in place. Do not use super glue!


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 is usually painful. In the meantime, to ease the pain and draw the pus toward the surface, try rinsing your mouth with a mild salt water solution (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water) several times a day.

Injury to the Gums, Tongue, Cheeks, and Lips that Result in Bleeding 

  1. Rinse your mouth with a mild salt-water solution.

  2. Use a moistened gauze or tea bag to pressure the bleeding site. Hold in place for 15 to 20 minutes.

  3. Hold a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area for 5 to 10 minutes to control bleeding and relieve pain.

  4. If the bleeding doesn't stop, see your dentist immediately or go to a hospital emergency room. Apply gauze pressure on the bleeding site until you can be seen and treated.


Tips to Prevent Sports-Related Tooth and Mouth Injuries

  • Mouth guards. When playing sports, wearing a mouth guard is the best way to protect your teeth and mouth.

  • Face cages. These protect against trauma to the face, especially when playing certain sports positions, like baseball catcher or hockey goalie.

  • Helmets. It's always wise to wear a helmet made for the activity that you are doing. Although most helmets won't protect the teeth and mouth, they will protect another important area, your head, to help protect against a concussion. [4]

Outlook and Prognosis

How can I manage my symptoms until I see my dentist?

  • Dull toothache: Rinse your mouth with warm water. Floss your teeth to see if there’s anything lodged between them. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen, naproxen, or ibuprofen. Never place aspirin directly on your gums. It will burn your tissue. Call your dentist to schedule an appointment.

  • A small chip or crack in your tooth: If you have a chip or crack that’s not causing any pain, it’s OK to wait until your dentist can see you. But if any sharp edges irritate your tongue or cheeks, cover the area with orthodontic wax. (You can purchase orthodontic wax in the oral health aisle at most pharmacies.)

  • Broken braces: Without bleeding from your mouth, broken braces usually aren’t a dental emergency. If you have a broken wire poking you in the cheek or tongue, gently bend the end of the wire using a pencil eraser or other blunt object. Then, cover the wire with orthodontic wax until you can see your dentist or orthodontist.

  • Object stuck between your teeth: If something lodged between your teeth, gently remove it using dental floss or an interproximal brush. Never try to remove an object with sharp instruments.

  • Minor soft tissue injury: Thoroughly rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution or antibacterial mouthwash. Apply pressure to the affected area using a piece of clean cotton gauze. The bleeding should stop within 15 to 20 minutes. If you still have severe bleeding after that, you should seek immediate care. [5]

Living With

When should I call a doctor?

I’m not sure if what I’m experiencing is a dental emergency. What should I do?

Some situations aren’t dental emergencies. In other words, you should still see your dentist as soon as possible, but waiting for an appointment during regular business hours is OK. Examples of issues that aren’t dental emergencies include:

  • Dull or mild toothache.

  • A small chip or crack in a tooth.

  • Broken braces.

  • Object stuck between your teeth.

  • Minor soft tissue injury (like a small cut or sore).

Remember, though, if you have severe bleeding or pain, you should immediately see a dental or healthcare provider. [6]

What To Do In a Dental Emergency

If you’re experiencing a dental emergency, you should call your dentist for further instructions. Many dentists have an emergency number you can call if it’s after regular business hours. If you don’t have a dentist, visit an urgent care center or your nearest emergency room.

Where To Go Gor a Dental Emergency

Your dentist will treat you in their office for most dental emergencies, like a broken or knocked-out tooth. You should go directly to the emergency room for more serious injuries, such as broken facial bones. [7]

References & Resources


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1118447/ [3]

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11368--dental-emergencies-what-to-do [1] [5] [6] [7]

https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/handling-dental-emergencies#1 [2] 

https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/handling-dental-emergencies#2 [4]



Medically Reviewed By Dr. Kelcey Loveland

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