Emergency Dentistry: Handling Top 13 Dental Mishaps


Accidents and unexpected dental issues can strike at any time, leaving you in discomfort and distress.

In these critical moments, knowing how to handle dental emergencies can make all the difference. Emergency dentistry is a specialized field that provides immediate care and relief when unexpected dental mishaps occur.

Let’s get into what emergency dentistry entails and how you can effectively manage dental emergencies should they arise.

What is Emergency Dentistry?

Emergency Dentistry: Handling Dental Mishaps

Emergency dentistry is a subspecialty of dentistry that deals with dental emergencies that require rapid intervention.

It addresses a wide range of dental emergencies, from severe toothaches to knocked-out teeth and broken dental restorations.

The fundamental objective of emergency dentistry is to relieve pain, prevent future issues, and quickly restore dental health.

Common Dental Emergencies


A toothache can be excruciating and often indicates an underlying dental problem.

It may result from tooth decay, a dental abscess, gum infection, or a cracked tooth. If you experience a severe one, it’s crucial to seek immediate dental help.

Chipped or Broken Teeth

Accidents, falls, or biting on hard objects can lead to chipped or broken teeth. These situations can cause pain and sensitivity and may expose the tooth’s nerves.

Seeking prompt dental attention can prevent infection and save the damaged tooth.

Knocked-Out Tooth

A knocked-out tooth requires immediate action to increase the chances of successful re-implantation.

Carefully handle the tooth by the crown, not the root, and rinse it gently with water if it’s dirty.

Try to reinsert it into the socket if possible, or place it in a container of milk or saliva while heading to the emergency dentist.

Lost Filling or Crown

Losing a filling or crown can be uncomfortable and leave the affected tooth vulnerable to damage and decay.

Until you can see your emergency dentist, you can apply dental cement or sugarless gum to protect the exposed area.

Abscessed Tooth

An abscessed tooth is a serious dental infection that requires immediate attention. I

f left untreated, it can cause significant discomfort, swelling, and even systemic health problems.

Seeking emergency dental care is vital to prevent further complications.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Accidents or bites can cause injuries to the soft tissues of the mouth, such as the tongue, lips, or cheeks.

These injuries may cause bleeding and discomfort and should be addressed promptly.

Uncommon Dental Emergencies

Emergency Dentistry: Handling Dental Mishaps

While the majority of dental emergencies include regular ailments such as toothaches or cracked teeth, there are certain unusual circumstances that may necessitate quick care from an emergency dentist.

Let’s see these lesser-known dental emergencies and how to handle them effectively.

Dislodged Dental Braces or Orthodontic Appliances

If you wear dental braces or other orthodontic appliances, they can sometimes become dislodged or damaged due to accidents or external forces. When this occurs, it can cause discomfort and affect the alignment process.

How to Handle It:
If your braces or orthodontic appliance becomes dislodged or broken, gently put it back into place. Avoid applying excessive force.

If you cannot reposition it or if it causes pain, cover any sharp edges with orthodontic wax and contact your emergency dentist immediately.

Broken Retainer

Retainers are essential for maintaining the alignment of your teeth after orthodontic treatment. However, they can occasionally break or crack, leading to potential shifting of teeth.

How to Handle It:
If your retainer breaks, carefully remove any loose pieces and place them in a safe container.

Avoid attempting to repair it at home, as this may cause further damage. Contact your emergency dentist to schedule an appointment for repair or replacement.

Object Lodged Between Teeth

Sometimes, small objects like popcorn kernels, seeds, or pieces of food can get lodged between your teeth, causing discomfort and irritation.

How to Handle It:
Try using dental floss to gently dislodge the object. Avoid using sharp or pointed objects, as they may damage your gums or teeth.

If flossing doesn’t work, contact your emergency dentist for assistance in removing the object safely.

Allergic Reaction to Dental Materials

Some people may have allergic reactions to dental materials used during operations, including as fillings or crowns, in rare situations.

How to Handle It:
Seek emergency medical assistance if you experience any unusual swelling, rash, or trouble breathing following a dental surgery.

Contact your emergency dentist to inform them of the situation and discuss alternative materials for future treatments.

Dental Trauma from Sports or Accidents

While dental injuries from sports or accidents are not uncommon, some cases may involve unique circumstances, such as tooth displacement or avulsion.

How to Handle It:
If you experience dental trauma, carefully rinse your mouth with water and locate any dislodged teeth.

Preserve knocked-out teeth in a container of milk or saliva and seek immediate attention from an emergency dentist. Quick action can improve the chances of re-implantation success.

Tooth Sensitivity After Dental Procedures

In certain situations, dental operations such as fillings, root canals, or teeth whitening might cause tooth sensitivity that lasts for a few days.

How to Handle It:
To alleviate tooth sensitivity after a dental procedure, avoid consuming extremely hot or cold foods and beverages.

Use a desensitizing toothpaste and follow your dentist’s post-treatment instructions. If the sensitivity persists or worsens, contact your dentist for further evaluation.

Broken Dentures or Dental Prosthetics

For individuals with dental prosthetics, such as dentures or bridges, a broken or damaged appliance can significantly impact daily life and oral function.

How to Handle It:
Avoid using over-the-counter adhesives if your dentures or dental prosthesis fail, since they may cause severe injury.

Store the broken pieces in a safe place and contact your emergency dentist for repair or replacement as soon as possible.

How to Handle a Dental Emergency

Emergency Dentistry: Handling Dental Mishaps

When faced with a dental emergency, staying calm and taking appropriate action can help alleviate pain and prevent further damage. Follow these steps to handle a dental emergency effectively:

  1. Stay Calm and Assess the Situation
    Take a deep breath and assess the dental emergency calmly. Understanding the severity of the situation will help you respond appropriately.
  2. Contact Your Emergency Dentist
    Call your emergency dentist immediately to explain the situation and seek their guidance. Most dental practices have provisions for handling urgent cases. Book an appointment now!
  3. Manage Pain and Discomfort
    While you wait for your dental appointment, you can relieve pain and discomfort through taking over-the-counter pain medicines (as prescribed) and applying a cold compress to minimize swelling.
  4. Preserve a Knocked-Out Tooth
    If you’ve knocked out a tooth, preserve it by keeping it moist. Place it in a jar of milk or saliva if reinserting it into the socket is not feasible.
  5. Dealing with a Lost Filling or Crown
    If a filling or crown comes loose, you can use temporary dental cement or sugarless gum as a short-term solution until your emergency dental visit.
  6. Addressing a Toothache
    To alleviate a toothache, rinse your mouth with warm saltwater, floss gently to remove any trapped debris, and avoid placing aspirin or other medications directly on the gum.
  7. Handling a Chipped or Broken Tooth
    Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area around the broken tooth. If possible, save any broken tooth fragments and bring them to your dental appointment.
  8. Managing an Abscessed Tooth
    An abscessed tooth requires immediate dental attention. Rinse your mouth with a mild saltwater solution to reduce pain and draw out some of the infection.
  9. Treating Soft Tissue Injuries
    For soft tissue injuries, clean the affected area gently with warm water and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling.

Preventing Dental Emergencies

While accidents can happen, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of dental emergencies:

  1. Practice Good Oral Hygiene
    Maintain a regular oral hygiene routine, including brushing twice a day, flossing, and visiting your dentist for check-ups and cleanings.
  2. Wear a Mouthguard during Sports
    If you participate in contact sports or activities with a risk of dental injury, wearing a mouthguard can provide valuable protection.
  3. Avoid Bad Dental Habits
    Avoid habits like chewing on ice, pens, or hard candies, of which can lead to chipped or broken teeth. Additionally, refrain from using your teeth as tools to open packages or bottles.
  4. Regular Dental Check-ups
    Attending regular dental check-ups is essential for early detection of potential dental issues. Your dentist can identify any problems before they escalate into dental emergencies, saving you from unnecessary pain and discomfort.

The Importance of Having an Emergency Dentist

Emergency Dentistry: Handling Dental Mishaps

Having access to an emergency dentist is crucial, especially when unexpected dental mishaps occur. Here’s why:

  1. Immediate Care and Relief
    Dental emergencies can be incredibly painful and disruptive to your daily life. An emergency dentist can provide immediate care and relief, addressing the issue promptly and efficiently.
  2. Minimizing Potential Complications
    Ignoring a dental emergency can lead to more severe problems down the line. Seeking prompt attention from an emergency dentist can prevent complications and preserve your oral health.
  3. Long-Term Dental Health
    Timely treatment from an emergency dentist ensures that your dental health remains in optimal condition. By addressing emergencies promptly, you can avoid more extensive dental procedures in the future.

What to Expect at an Emergency Dental Visit

Visiting an emergency dentist is different from a regular dental check-up. Here’s what you can expect during an emergency dental visit:

  1. Thorough Evaluation
    The emergency dentist will conduct a thorough evaluation of your dental issue, taking X-rays if necessary to assess the extent of the problem.
  2. X-rays and Diagnostic Tests
    X-rays and other diagnostic tests help the dentist diagnose the issue accurately and determine the most suitable treatment.
  3. Treatment Options
    Once the problem is identified, the emergency dentist will discuss treatment options with you, ensuring you understand the procedure and any potential aftercare.
  4. Follow-Up Care
    After the emergency treatment, the dentist may recommend follow-up care to monitor your progress and ensure complete healing.

The Cost of Emergency Dentistry

The cost of emergency dentistry can vary depending on the nature of the dental emergency and the treatment required.

Factors such as the complexity of the procedure, the need for X-rays or other diagnostic tests, and the location of the dental practice can influence the cost.

  • Varies Depending on the Situation
    Simple treatments, such as addressing a minor toothache, may be less expensive, while complex procedures like re-implanting a knocked-out tooth can be more costly.
  • Dental Insurance Coverage
    Check with your dental insurance provider to understand what emergency dental services are covered under your plan. Some insurance policies may cover a portion of the cost, reducing your out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Payment Plans and Financing Options
    If you do not have dental insurance or if the emergency treatment is not fully covered, many dental practices offer payment plans or financing options to help manage the cost.


Dental emergencies can be distressing, but with the right knowledge and access to an emergency dentist, you can handle them with ease.

Remember to stay calm, seek immediate dental care, and practice preventive measures to minimize the risk of emergencies.

In times of dental crisis, don’t hesitate to reach out to your emergency dentist for immediate relief and professional care. By taking prompt action and following the guidance provided, you can ensure the well-being of your dental health.

Emergency Dentistry: Handling Dental Mishaps

What should I do if I have a severe toothache?

If you experience a severe toothache, rinse your mouth with warm saltwater, floss gently to remove any debris, and contact your emergency dentist for an appointment.

Can I wait until the next day to see an emergency dentist for a knocked-out tooth?

Time is crucial for the successful re-implantation of a knocked-out tooth. Try to see the emergency dentist within an hour for the best chances of saving the tooth.

Is emergency dentistry more expensive than regular dental visits?

The cost of emergency dentistry can vary depending on the treatment needed. While it may be more expensive than a regular check-up, prompt treatment can prevent further complications and potential higher costs in the future.

Can I use super glue to reattach a broken crown at home?

Using super glue or other adhesives at home is not recommended, as it can damage the crown or lead to complications. See your emergency dentist to properly reattach or replace the crown.

How can I avoid dental emergencies in the future?

You can reduce the risk of dental emergencies by practicing good oral hygiene, wearing a mouthguard during sports, and avoiding bad dental habits like chewing on hard objects or using your teeth as tools.


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