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What to Do During a Dental Emergency

While most people know how to do basic maintenance on their teeth (brushing, flossing, etc.), many people are unsure of what constitutes a dental emergency and what to do when one occurs. Accidents are inevitable, so knowing what to do when a dental accident occurs can save you a lot of pain and might even save your life!

Most dental emergencies relate to bleeding, swelling, loss of teeth, tissue injuries, pain or facial trauma. These and any other types of dental emergencies should be attended to by a dental practitioner as soon as possible. However, if a dentist is not available and you have a dental emergency, visit an emergency room immediately to avoid further damage.

Here are some of the most common dental emergencies that we at Charlotte Dentistry® have encountered and how to manage them until professional medical care is available.

Knocked Out/Avulsed Tooth

If your tooth is knocked out, it has a better chance of surviving the trauma if you schedule for an emergency dental appointment within an hour after the injury. Meanwhile, you can retrieve the tooth and gently rinse it with water. Make sure to hold the tooth by the crown and not by the root. Holding the tooth this way will keep it from drying out. Store the tooth in a clean cloth and immerse it in milk or a saline medium. Get to see your dentist as soon as possible for help.

Broken Tooth

In the event of a broken or chipped tooth, rinse your mouth out with warm water to clear out any residual broken or chipped pieces. If you spot bleeding at the break point, apply gauze to the area until the bleeding stops. Use a cold compress to the outside of the mouth near the broken tooth to help reduce swelling, irritation or pain. Visit a dentist as soon as possible to restore the broken tooth.

Broken Tooth (Dentures)

If you wear dentures and a tooth breaks off, wear your spare dentures, if you have spares. If not, use cyanoacrylate (a family of strong fast-acting adhesives with industrial, medical, and household uses) to stick the broken piece in place as a temporary measure until you see your dentist.


Toothaches are common dental emergencies that lead to discomfort, pain, or soreness within a person’s gums. Toothaches are usually indicative of inflammation or possible infection, so they need to be tended to immediately. The first step is to brush your teeth well and floss to remove any debris that may be stuck between your teeth. If pain persists, acetaminophen is recommended for temporary relief. However, under no circumstance should you directly use aspirin on tooth or gums as it may burn the tooth tissues. Make an appointment with your dentist immediately to treat a toothache.

Facial Trauma

Facial trauma or maxillofacial trauma is an injury to the face affecting the facial bones such as the upper or lower jaw bones. Facial injuries may produce pain, swelling, change in shape of facial structures, or loss of function (e.g. difficulty moving the jaw). If you suspect that your jaw is misaligned or dislocated, seek dental assistance as soon as possible. If medical attention cannot be accessed, tie the bottom of the jaw to the top of the head using a tie, scarf, or handkerchief. Make sure not to tie too tightly and find your way to an emergency room immediately.

Always Remember…

In the event of a dental emergency, stay calm. Arrange for a dental treatment to get professional help the next time you experience a dental emergency.

Handling your dental injuries in the right manner can make all the difference in the world. We at Charlotte Dentistry® regularly perform emergency dental procedures and have Saturday hours so that we can take care of you during emergencies when they arise!

Bring your whole family to one convenient location for all their dental needs.
…Treat Others As You Would Have Them Treat You … Matthew 7:12