What to do in a dental emergency

Woman suffering dental emergency with hand on faceBe prepared. Learning what to do now in case of a dental emergency can prevent the loss of a tooth due to an accident or injury later.

If possible, always start with clean hands and, if assisting someone else, a calm voice.

  • Bitten inner cheek, lip, or tongue
    If there is no other head injury, refrain from lying down until bleeding stops.
    Apply a clean cold cloth or ice cubes wrapped in gauze to slow bleeding.
    If profuse bleeding persists, seek emergency medical care.
  • Broken tooth
    Rinse mouth with warm water then apply a cold compress to that side of the face to reduce swelling.
    Immediately call your dentist about coming in to be seen.
  • Excessive bleeding from tongue or lip
    Go to the emergency room after you have applied a cold compress.
    If you have a moment to spare, grab an old towel and/or a box of tissues, an old shirt, and something to do for the wait.
  • Knocked-out tooth
    Hold the tooth by the crown and gently rinse off—don’t scrub—dirt away.
    Gently reinsert the tooth’s root into its socket and hold the tooth in place OR, if that is not possible, carry the tooth in cup of milk.
    Get to the dentist as quickly as possible—preferably within the hour.
  • Bruised or broken jaw
    Apply a clean cold cloth, a cold compress, or ice cubes wrapped in a clean tube sock and wrapped along the jaw line.
    If you suspect the jaw is broken, go to the emergency room immediately.
  • Object stuck between teeth
    Use dental floss—NOT a sharp object—to remove the object.
    If you don’t succeed, contact your dentist for an appointment.
  • Stung lip
    Remove the stinger, if there is one.
    Apply a clean cold cloth or ice cube wrapped in gauze to reduce swelling.
    Be cautious when eating and drinking until swelling subsides.
  • Toothache
    Rinse mouth with warm water.
    Floss to remove food that may be trapped between teeth, causing pressure.
    Do NOT put an aspirin on a sore tooth or on sore gums.
    See your dentist as soon as possible to determine the cause of the toothache.
  • Unusual swelling of the face, lips, throat, or tongue
    Suspect an allergic reaction and get to an emergency room immediately.
    Even if you use epinephrine as a rescue medicine, medical personnel need to follow up with you and your heart afterwards.

Program our Hughes and Hughes office phone number—610-942-3321—into your phone. Carry it on your medical alert (bracelet, card, drive, necklace, tag).

If you are traveling and face a dental emergency, ask for recommendations for a dentist from the friends, the hospital emergency room personnel, the hotel staff, or the U.S. Embassy.

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