123Dentist Answers your questions

Emergency Dental Care

Although most dental problems are resolved at scheduled dental appointments at your dentist’s office, there are times when dental emergencies happen outside of normal office hours. Many dentists are able to provide emergency dental services quickly and will have after-hours contact information available.

Handling Dental Emergencies

When a dental emergency occurs, it’s best to seek out treatment as soon as possible to avoid permanent damage or costly future repairs. For example, a dentist may be able to secure a knocked-out tooth back in place if it happens soon after the injury. If not, a restoration such as a dental bridge or dental implant may be necessary.

What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?

It can be difficult to determine whether a dental issue requires emergency treatment. In most cases, significant bleeding, severe pain, or saving a tooth are considered dental emergencies.

Common dental emergencies that should be looked at by a dental professional right away include:

  • Knocked out teeth
  • Severe infections or abscesses
  • Wounds or lacerations to the soft tissue
  • Injuries or trauma to the face or mouth
  • Swelling or bulges in the gums

What to Do When You Have a Dental Emergency

Three are several actions you can take after a dental emergency to help your dentist treat the issue more effectively. The steps you should take in each instance will vary. In most cases, you can treat pain with over the counter pain medication, but do not apply the medication directly to the gums or soft tissue of the mouth.

In cases of severe bleeding or pain, or if a tooth has been knocked out, you may need to go to the emergency room at your local hospital. They may or may not have emergency dentists available. If not, a doctor could provide you with short-term solutions until you can see a dentist.

Infections and Abscesses

Severe infections or abscesses in the gums can be life-threatening. Abscesses usually present as a painful swelling on the gums that resembles a pimple. These infections can spread to the surrounding tissues and even to other parts of the body. Be sure to seek emergency care right away. In the meantime, rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution.


If you have a toothache, you should call your dentist right away to book an emergency appointment. Many dentists reserve time for emergencies. While you wait for your appointment, rinse your mouth out with warm water and apply a cold compress to your cheeks and jaw to ease the pain.

A Chipped or Cracked Tooth

For chipped and cracked teeth, seeing a dentist right away is essential. If your tooth has broken apart, save any pieces and bring them with you to the dentist. Use gauze to stop any bleeding and apply a cold compress to the face to reduce swelling and ease any pain.

Soft Tissue Injuries

The priority in cases of soft tissue injury is to control any bleeding. For cases of excessive bleeding, ensure you seek out medical treatment right away. In the meantime, you can use gauze, rinse with a saltwater solution, and apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth to control the bleeding.

Knocked Out Tooth

In many cases, a dentist can save a tooth that has been knocked out by trauma or injury. Teeth that are returned to their socket within one hour of being knocked out are the most likely to be saved. If your tooth is knocked out, be sure to touch it only at the crown (the part that is exposed in the mouth). Rinse the tooth and roots, but do not scrub them. If you can, replace the tooth in the socket right away and see your dentists as soon as possible. If the tooth can’t be fit back into place, put it in a cup of milk or a cup of water with a pinch of salt added.

A Lost Crown

If a crown has fallen out of place, retrieve the crown and try to slip it back in place over the tooth. You can keep it in place using toothpaste, denture adhesive, or over the counter dental cement. See your dentist as soon as possible to have the crown permanently reinstalled or replaced.

Find Oral Health Care Services Near You

If you need to book a dental appointment right away for a dental emergency, you can find a dentist near you by searching the 123Dentist network of dental care professionals. Our dentists and recognized dental specialists work hard to ensure your dental health is cared for at all times.

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