top of page

What To Do In A Dental Emergency

It is important to seek treatment for dental emergencies as soon as possible. Delaying treatment for dental emergencies can often lead to worsening of the condition. If the dental emergency is the result of significant trauma it is important that you are screened at a hospital emergency department to rule out more serious conditions (such as concussions, jaw fractures, etc.) prior to seeing a dentist to treat your dental emergency.

Trauma Related Emergencies:

Knocked Out Permanent Tooth

  • Knocked out teeth with the highest chances of being saved are those seen by the dentist and reinserted in the socket within 1 hour of being knocked out.

  • Pick up the tooth by the crown (do not touch the root) and gently rinse off the root in cold water, if it is dirty; do not scrub or remove any attached tissue fragment on the root.

  • Gently insert (but don't force) tooth in the socket; make sure it is facing the right way; bite on a gauze or napkin to hold it in place.

  • If it is not possible to insert the tooth, put the tooth in a suitable storage medium. The best medium is Hank's Balanaced Salt Solution and can be found at Milk or saline also work well. If these are not available it can be stored in the patient's mouth between the cheek and teeth, and in young children in a container with their saliva.

  • Go to the dentist as quickly as possible to have the tooth reimplanted (if not already done) and splinted to the adjacent teeth.

  • NOTE: Never place a baby tooth back in the mouth.

Displaced Tooth

  • The tooth can be pushed inward or outwards and/or may be loose.

  • If possible you try to move the tooth gently back into its original position and bite on a gauze or napkin to hold it in place.

  • Seek dental care immediately to have the tooth repositioned (if not already done) and splinted to the adjacent teeth.

Fractured Tooth

  • Find the broken piece and store it in water or milk. The dentist may be able to bond it back to the tooth. 

Lacerations and Bleeding

  • Rinse the area with warm salt water.

  • If bleeding, apply pressure with a moist gauze or tea bag for 15-20 minutes.

  • If the bleeding does not stop, continue to apply pressure and seek emergency care.

  • If the laceration involves the outer lips or skin of the face it is best to go to the hospital emergency department.

  • If the laceration involves the tissues inside of the mouth it can be sutured at a dental emergency clinic.

Soft Tissue Trauma

  • Apply a cold compress to the traumatized area to reduce swelling.

Jaw Fracture

  • If you can't open your jaws properly or your teeth do not come together normally, you should be screened at the hospital emergency department for a possible jaw fracture.

Non-Trauma Related Emergencies:


  • Clean any irritating debris by rinsing with warm salt water and flossing gently.

  • Avoid anything that stimulates the pain such as cold and hot foods, sweets, or chewing.

  • Often with very severe toothaches sipping cold water can provide temporary relief.

  • Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen (if not allergic to it).

  • If the pain is severe seek emergency care.

  • A dentist can provide stronger pain medication, and also prescribe antibiotics if the pain is related to an infection.

  • Often severe pain can only be relieved by starting a root canal or removing the tooth.


  • The swelling may or may not be very painful.

  • Swelling usually indicates an infection and the patient should seek immediate dental care

  • The dentist will determine the cause of the infection. The infection may be drained. Pain medication and antibiotics are usually prescribed.

  • Infections where the swelling is large and spreading near the eye or throat can be life-threatening. In these situations you will be referred to a hospital emergency department for treatment . 

Broken Tooth, Lost Filling, or Uncemented Crown

  • Avoid chewing on it.

  • Keep it clean.

  • If it has a sharp edge or an exposed area that is sensitive, you can cover it with over-the-counter dental cement or dental wax or you can put a piece sugar-free gum over the area.

  • See a dentist as soon as possible.

bottom of page