How to Handle Common Dental Emergencies

dental emergency

Dental emergencies are usually easy to identify by the symptoms -- like pain, loss of a tooth, and bleeding. But if you’re ever uncertain about whether you need immediate attention, call us at Charlotte Root Canal Center. We can ask a few questions, quickly assess your problem, and let you know when to come in for help.

When you or your child faces a dental emergency, quick action on your part can help save a damaged tooth or prevent complications. Here are our top tips for the most common dental emergencies.

Knocked out tooth

When a tooth is knocked out, there’s an excellent chance we can save the tooth if you act quickly to protect it. Here are three steps to take:

1. Keep the tooth moist

You can keep the tooth moist by rinsing it under moderate water (not cold or hot) and placing it back into its socket. If you try to do this, be careful not to force it into the socket; you don’t to risk damaging the root or the surrounding tissues. Alternately, you can hold the tooth between your gums and cheeks or put it in a cup of milk.

2. Don’t touch the tooth root

Pick up and handle the tooth by its crown so you don’t do any damage to the tooth root.

3. Get to our office in 30-60 minutes

We can usually keep the tooth alive if you get to the office within 30 minutes. After an hour, it may still be saved, but the chances of successfully implanting the tooth begin to go down.

Chipped or broken tooth

A mildly chipped tooth may not be an emergency, but it still needs timely attention because it creates an opening that allows bacteria to get inside the tooth. You may need emergency attention if the crack is severe, a large piece of tooth is gone, the inner pulp is exposed, or you have pain or bleeding.

Immediately rinse your mouth with warm salt water to inhibit bacteria growth and clean the area. While you wait to come in for your appointment, avoid using the affected tooth, and don’t drink or eat items that are too hot or cold.

If you’re bleeding, apply gentle pressure with a gauze. For swelling, apply an ice pack on your cheek over the affected tooth. You can also take ibuprofen to relieve pain and inflammation.

A broken tooth may leave a sharp or pointed edge. When that happens, cover the edge with temporary dental filling, dental wax, or sugar-free gum.


Gently floss and rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area. While you can take a pain reliever, do not take aspirin or place it on the tooth or gums. Don’t use benzocaine products in children younger than two years and use them sparingly for others.


Alternately, applying a small amount of clove oil with a cotton swab helps relieves toothache pain. If you have evidence of an infection, such as swelling, red gums, pain, or a fever, call us immediately.

Lost crown or filling

Self-care for a lost crown or filling is similar to a toothache. In addition to rinsing your mouth and taking ibuprofen, you can also use temporary filling material and over-the-counter dental cement to temporarily secure the crown.

Infection or abscess

Although infections and abscesses aren’t emergencies in the same sense as an accident or injury that knocks out a tooth, they should be treated like a dental emergency. By the time you feel the pain of an infection, chances are the infection has already spread into the gum and needs attention to save the tooth and prevent the infection from spreading throughout your body. Additionally, a dental infection or abscess won’t heal on its own.

While you’re waiting for your appointment, you can take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen, use floss to be sure you don’t have irritating food particles between the affected teeth, and avoid consuming hot, cold, sugary, and acidic items. It may also help to gargle with salt water.

For any type of dental emergency, call us at Charlotte Root Canal Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, so we can schedule an appointment and protect your dental health.

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