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.