The 411 on Dental Emergencies

You probably know that for most medical emergencies, you call 911. But do you know what to do for dental emergencies? Some large cities have emergency dental services, but in places where that is not an option you may have to wait hours or even days before seeing a dentist.


If a tooth has been knocked out whole, you may be able to save the tooth. Pick it up by the tooth, not the root, rinse it off gently and reposition it in your mouth. Bite down just enough to keep it in place. If you cannot put the tooth back in your mouth, immerse it in milk. Get to the dentist within 30 to 60 minutes and have it splinted into place. It may reattach within two weeks. If the tooth is unrecoverable or it does not re-embed itself you may end up needing a denture, bridge or dental implant. Implants are often the best option for missing teeth; they are also used to replace teeth that have been cracked or broken up to the gumline. Advances in immediate implant placement technique mean you may be able to complete the procedure quickly and with just one surgery. Teeth that are chipped or broken at the bottom may only need filing, repair or a dental veneer.


Several things may cause a toothache. If soreness is caused by a foreign object stuck between teeth, try to dislodge it using floss. Do not poke around with sharp objects as you may irritate gums further and cause swelling that will trap the object more tightly. A lost or loose filling may allow irritants near tender tissue or nerves, causing abrupt shooting pain; a repair kit purchased at a nearby drugstore may provide a few days’ relief. General dental pain may be caused by a cavity, abscess or mouth sore. Treat swelling with a cold compress and take a painkiller to ease your discomfort. In all of these cases, inform your dentist of the situation and get in for treatment as soon as possible.