What to Do In Case of a Dental Emergency

Prevent most dental emergencies means maintaining proper oral hygiene at home and visiting the dentist regularly. Protecting your teeth while playing sports or participating in other risky activities is another important part of avoiding damage to your smile.

If you do experience a dental emergency, there are steps you can take to alleviate pain and increase your chances of complete recovery. Dental emergencies require prompt attention and in some cases a trip to the emergency room. 

The following guidelines can help you save your teeth when injury or decay has caused damage:

Dislodged/Avulsed Tooth 

When trauma causes a tooth to be knocked out (avulsed), locate it and rinse gently, being careful not to disturb the attached natural fibers. Reinsert the tooth into the socket right way and be sure to position the tooth correctly. If this is impossible, or if the patient is a child who’s lost a permanent tooth, place it in milk or lightly salted water. Follow your dentist’s instructions or go to an emergency room. The reattachment attempt must be made within an hour or less of the avulsion to be successful. If a tooth is partially dislodged there are different treatment approaches. A dental professional may extract the tooth and attempt reattachment. Or they might leave it in place and allow the tooth to reattach by itself. Follow-up care is necessary to increase the odds of a positive outcome.

If you can’t locate the tooth, there is no need to rush to a hospital. The dentist will probably schedule you to come in the same day or within 24 hours.

Bleeding can be heavy and biting down on gauze, or a clean absorbent cloth will help. Over-the-counter pain medications are helpful as is an ice-pack held to the area intermittently.

If you lose a tooth permanently, there are solutions such as dental implants or traditional bridges to restore your smile’s function and beauty. 

Severe Tooth or Jaw Pain 

The most common cause of extreme dental pain is decay that has spread into the inner portion of the tooth (pulp) where the nerves are housed. Deep decay leads to infection and intense pain. Call the dentists to be seen as soon as possible. If you have an established dental provider and it’s after business hours, your dentist may prescribe an effective pain reliever to help until your appointment time. Treatment will depend on the extent of damage done by the decay. Antibiotics and root canal therapy are commonly required.


Abscesses are infections at the root of the tooth and can lead to systemic illness if left untreated. An abscess can only be diagnosed with an X-ray. However, you may notice a pimple-like bump on your gum. As in the case of infection caused by deep decay, antibiotics are prescribed to treat abscesses and root canal therapy may also be necessary.

Broken, Teeth and Restorations  

If there is no pain associated with the break, chip, or crack, a broken tooth or restoration does not require immediate attention. A prompt visit to the dentist within one or two days is necessary to make the repair and keep the tooth strong and functional. When a crown has broken or become dislodged, gum tissue can grow into that space, complicating replacement. Dental adhesive is available in many stores to hold crowns in place temporarily.

Call Loudoun Family & Cosmetic Dentistry to Learn More!

If you have questions, or a dental emergency in Leesburg, VA, call our Lansdowne dental office for fast service.

You Might Also Enjoy...