How to Handle a Dental Emergency

dental emergencies

A toothache, broken crown, lost filling or chipped tooth – dental emergencies seem to happen at the most inconvenient times. Don’t ignore the problem, thinking that it will go away! Contact your dentist as soon as possible. While you’re waiting for your appointment, follow these tips on how to handle a dental emergency:


  • Toothache – Rinse your mouth with warm water; remove any food particles around the tooth by flossing gently; if the gum or tooth is painful, apply a cool compress on the outside of the mouth near the affected area
  • Broken or chipped tooth – Collect and save any pieces; rinse your mouth with warm water; if the tooth or gum is bleeding, use gauze and gently apply pressure; to prevent or reduce swelling, use a cold compress on the outside of the cheek or lip near the broken tooth
  • Knocked-out tooth – If a tooth is knocked out, retrieve it by holding onto the outside edge; if it’s dirty, gently rinse the root with warm water; put the tooth into a small container of milk or use water with a pinch of salt; contact a dentist quickly; the best chance of saving a knocked-out tooth is if you see a dentist within an hour
  • Lost filling – As a temporary measure, cover the area with an over-the-counter dental cement or piece of sugarless chewing gum (sugared gum will cause pain)
  • Lost crown – Put a little clove oil (available at a pharmacy or grocery store) on a cotton swab and apply it to the sensitive area; if you retrieve the crown, apply a little over-the-counter dental cement inside the crown and place it back over the tooth

Although dental problems often occur at inconvenient times, don’t put off treatment. Hospitals across the country have reported an increase in the number of visits for dental emergencies.


  • Eliza Lawrence ,

    I was not aware that you should seek emergency help if you loose a filling. I am so grateful that there are workers out there 24/7 to help you with any emergencies like this that you might have. I really respect them for all that they help. with. That would be a really hard job to have.

    • Michelle Ann ,

      Myself & my Husband are in need of dental care! We are both diabetic, health is good for dental to be done, but we had benifits, now do to the Obama care act, we lost our dental, etc.. We are in ergent need of dental work,, payment plan, no problem! Please if anyone knows of a good dentist that trust , and is honest and caring, please send any info to my e-mail please.. Working all our lives I don’t understand why there is not something out there for the people who worked so hard all of there lives.. Any plan or info would be so very thankful!!! I hope who reads this gets the care they need too! God bless……ASAP if possible… Thank you!!

      • Ameritas Insight ,

        • Jameel Johnson ,

          I didn’t know that you could save a lost tooth. That is really interesting. I am going to take better care of my teeth. It’s super helpful to know what to do in these situations.

          • Delores Lyon ,

            I agree that these are all great reasons to know of an emergency dentist. You need to make sure that your teeth are going to be healthy, even after something happens to them. As a safety measure, I would write down the number on a notepad or something so that you can call them any time the emergency happens.

            • Edmond Vandergraff ,

              I think that I may have lost a filling in one of my molars. I was picking out some food with a toothpick, and I just pulled it out. I have a huge hole back there now that is just filling up with food like crazy. I never realized that you could temporarily cover the hole with a piece of sugarless gum.

              • Hedley Fulton ,

                I have never thought of using floss to try to help remove a toothache before. It seems like flossing would cause more pain than less. However, I can definitely understand how this would be beneficial. Having particles of food stuck in your teeth can definitely make a toothache more painful. I will definitely have to remember this for future reference.

                • Mia Boyd ,

                  Thanks for the information. Like you said, dental emergencies happen all the time. That’s why it’s important to be prepared for them. That means making sure you have a dentist’s number on hand at all times. I’ll make sure I do that.

                  • Discovery Dental WA ,

                    You have shared some great tips to handle an unexpected dental emergency. These can be a good temporary solution but it is advised to reach your nearest dentist for the treatment.

                    • Vivian Peazer ,

                      Do you have any recommendations for a chip on a back molar? My husband has had one chip, but since it’s not up in the front we weren’t sure if it would be something that qualified as an emergency or not. It’s not causing him pain, it just feels a bit different.

                      • Ameritas Insight ,


                        We would recommend talking to your dentist. They should be able to tell you if you need to have it assessed or fixed. Thanks.

                        • Pymble Dentist ,

                          Thanks for the information. very useful article.

                          • LLouch@ameritas.com ,

                            You are most welcome. 🙂

                            • Steven Harrison ,

                              Thank you for the clarifying article. It’s nice to know what to do if any of these things happened to me or any of my children. I’d hate to be in panic mode if my child lost a crown or had a chipped tooth.

                              • LLouch@ameritas.com ,

                                Glad it was helpful!

                                • Gaby Bahri ,

                                  Really, this is a nice content.this content help us easily.


                                  • LLouch@ameritas.com ,

                                    We’re glad you find it useful. Thanks!

                                    • Ethel ,

                                      I have never cracked a tooth before but I wouldn’t have any idea what to do before reading this! It is good to know that you should gather all the pieces possible, and make sure not to swallow any! Thanks for the emergency tips, I will remember these!

                                      • LLouch@ameritas.com ,

                                        We’re glad it was helpful! 🙂

                                        • James Bay ,

                                          When these things happen, it’s not always the most convenient time. I know I have had a bad toothache on vacation one time. It wasn’t fun. Thank you for posting these great tips! This information will help a lot with kids!

                                          • LLouch@ameritas.com ,

                                            Glad it was helpful! 🙂

                                            • Alex Lane ,

                                              Thanks for sharing this advice. I had no idea that for a chipped or broken tooth you are supposed to save as many pieces as possible. I chipped my tooth yesterday, and that didn’t cross my mind to look for the piece. Can I ask what is the purpose of saving those pieces?

                                              • LLouch@ameritas.com ,

                                                That is a great question. If the broken tooth pieces can be saved, it may help the dentist diagnose how bad the break is. But if you didn’t save them, that’s ok. 🙂

                                                • John@humedentist.com ,

                                                  This is a great article! many of my patiences have the same problem and I always reference them to your site.
                                                  Thanks for the info

                                                  • LLouch@ameritas.com ,

                                                    Hello, John! Thank you for reading our blog. We’re glad you like it!

                                                    • Eliza Cranston ,

                                                      Thanks for the advice on dental emergencies! I’m never sure when I should go to the dentist or when I can wait. I’ll make sure to go in for any of these problems from now on. I’ve heard that clove oil can help with a toothache. Do you know if this is true?

                                                      • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                        Many home remedies can help ease aches and pains. Not a bad idea to ask your dentist if you want to try something new, though.

                                                        • Paul Langley ,

                                                          This is some really great general info that more people should have. It’s difficult to be prepared in every emergency, but knowing what to do if you lose or chip a tooth is worth the time to look up. I’m glad I read this, I’ll be sure to keep this in mind if I or my kids ever have one of these dental emergencies. Thanks so much for writing!

                                                          • Anna Menzel ,

                                                            I wouldn’t have thought that you could repair a lost crown on your own. I’ll have to pick up some clove oil and dental cement just in case this ever happens. After doing the temporary work I would probably still go into the dentist office to make sure that everything is looking good.

                                                            • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                              Good idea. Yes, we’d recommend seeing your dentist as soon as possible after a dental emergency.

                                                              • Pancho ,

                                                                I used to be one of those people that would always let something like a chipped tooth or toothache alone until it got unbearable. Never did I once think to seek dental attention as soon as possible. Your mouth is a very important part of your body, and you should take proper care of it.

                                                                • David Moses ,

                                                                  I commend this post. The data presented are much relevant in handling dental triad. We look forward to seeing more of your posts on dental care.

                                                                  • Rockford Johnson ,

                                                                    Cool post! Thank you for helping me know how to handle a dental emergency. I like how you said that “A toothache, broken crown, lost a filling or chipped tooth – dental emergencies seem to happen at the most inconvenient times. Don’t ignore the problem, thinking that it will go away!” My dentist has helped me to avoid dental emergencies but if one does happen, I will be prepared thanks to this article.

                                                                    • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                      Glad you enjoyed it!

                                                                      • emily bennette ,

                                                                        These are some really good things to know if you play sports that could end up getting into a dental emergency. I like that you talked about how you should put a knocked out tooth in a glass of milk until you can get to a dentist. That seems like a smart thing to know so you don’t panic and do something that could destroy your tooth.

                                                                        • Raj Sandhu ,

                                                                          Great information thank you for sharing this on web.

                                                                          • Aria Wellington ,

                                                                            I had a filling fall out yesterday and I have been really worried about it. I need to make an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible so hopefully I will be able to get it all sorted out. Your tip about using sugar free gum seems like it would help, I will have to test it out.

                                                                            • David Hawkins ,

                                                                              These are some great tips for handling dental emergencies. I did not know that a filling hole could be covered up with the foil from sugarless gum. Obviously these are temporary fixes and you should get to a dentist ASAP to get the problem fixed though. Thanks for these awesome tips and advice!

                                                                              • Paul Langley ,

                                                                                This is some really great information for any parent or caretaker, as it seems most of the time these dental emergencies will happen to children. I remember I had my fair share as a kid, the worst being when I chipped one of my front teeth, and it was never seen to. And I agree completely that even if they are inconvenient, they should not be put off, and need to be addressed immediately. Thanks so much for writing!

                                                                                • Annie Frances ,

                                                                                  My brother has a toothache right now. I’ll let him know he should rinse his mouth out with warm water. Hopefully we can find a dentist soon for him to see. Thanks for the help.

                                                                                  • Rockford Johnson ,

                                                                                    Thank you for helping me understand how I should handle a dental emergency. I really like how you explained that contacting your dentist is the best possible option when a dental emergency happens. I have never had problems with my teeth before but I can imagine how helpful an emergency dentist can be when it comes to taking care of a problem that may occur.

                                                                                    • Braden Bills ,

                                                                                      I’ve been trying to come up with a good way to get my toothache taken care of. I didn’t know that it counted as a dental emergency! I’ll be sure to go in as soon as I can. Thank you for sharing!

                                                                                      • Kendall Ryder ,

                                                                                        I once had the such an awful toothache that I needed to get to a dentist immediately. I didn’t realize to rinse out my mouth or floss. It was too painful but I bet it would have helped a bit. Anything that would have helped that pain would have been so beneficial!

                                                                                        • Baxter Abel ,

                                                                                          Thanks for including the tip to put olive oil on a cotton swab and applying it to the sensitive area in a dental emergency! I didn’t know that would help alleviate pain, and that you could then use over the counter dental cement to reapply lost fillings or crowns. I’ve never really had a dental emergency, but when I do I’ll be sure to keep these tips in mind.

                                                                                          • Braden Bills ,

                                                                                            My son’s tooth is hurting, and I don’t know if I should take him to the dentist. I didn’t know that it could be a dental emergency! I’ll make sure that I get him in there as soon as possible.

                                                                                            • Loudoun Family Dental ,

                                                                                              I like your blog your blog is very interesting and informative.

                                                                                              Thank You

                                                                                              • Callum Palmer ,

                                                                                                These are some great tips; after all, a lot of people really don’t know how they’re supposed to act in a dental emergency. However, I do like that the article brings up placing your knocked out tooth in milk and then rushing you to the dentist. After all if you do that then there might actually be a chance that the dentist can save your tooth and put it back in your mouth.

                                                                                                • Carl Becker ,

                                                                                                  We just recently experienced our first “dental emergency” with my son. Luckily Southern Charm Dental was happy to help and they actually saved his tooth! I’m so glad I knew how to handle a dental emergency.

                                                                                                  • Ameritas Insight ,

                                                                                                    We are glad you were prepared. Thanks for reading!

                                                                                                    • Duncan Lance ,

                                                                                                      Not many people really know how to handle a dental emergency, so it is really great to get some tips. I particularly like that the article covers what to do in the event that your tooth gets knocked out. After all, most people would fly into a panic, so it is helps to have some proper direction.

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