How to Handle Common Dental Emergencies Until You Reach Our Office

Apr 11, 2023
How to Handle Common Dental Emergencies Until You Reach Our Office
Dental emergencies are often painful and sometimes frightening. Learning how to handle common emergencies gives you the confidence to perform first aid and can make the difference between saving or losing a tooth.

Dental emergencies can occur at any time, whether from falling off a bike, an accident at work, or biting down on a hard piece of candy. No matter what causes the problem, knowing what to do can minimize your pain and may make the difference between saving or losing a tooth.

The team at Litchfield Dental Care offers comprehensive treatments for a wide range of dental services, including any dental emergency you or your family might face. Here’s a rundown on what problems demand emergency care and what you can do to protect your teeth and mouth on your way to our office.

What is a dental emergency?

You should seek emergency dental care when you:

  • Have mouth pain that’s severe, doesn’t improve, or gets worse
  • Have bleeding that won’t stop
  • Knock out tooth
  • Chip or crack a tooth
  • Get an object stuck in your gums, cheeks, or lips
  • Lose a filling, crown, or bridge

You may be able to schedule a next-day appointment if you don’t have pain after losing a filling or chipping a tooth. Otherwise, these problems need immediate dental attention.

How to handle dental emergencies

Here are the steps you should take for common dental emergencies:

Knocked-out tooth

Our team has a good chance of saving your tooth if you act quickly and follow these five steps:

  1. Find the tooth and pick it up, but don’t touch the tooth root. Handle it by the crown (the chewing surface).
  2. Gently rinse the tooth to remove any dirt. Don’t use soap, and don’t scrub the tooth, dry it, or wrap it in cloth.
  3. Replace the tooth in the socket if possible.

Holding the tooth by the crown, try to gently push it into the open socket. Or place it in the socket and close your mouth slowly. Use your fingers or gently bite down to hold the tooth in place until you can get to our office.

We don’t recommend doing this in young children unless you can help hold the tooth in place and they won’t accidentally swallow it. The next step gives you another way to preserve the tooth.

  1. Keep the tooth moist.

If you can’t get it into the socket, keep the tooth moist at all times. The easiest way is to put it in milk (never water). Alternatively, adults and older children may be able to hold the tooth in their mouth between their cheek and gums.

You can also use a tooth preservation kit if you happen to have one on hand. If you decide to add one to your first aid kit, look for a preservation product with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

  1. Call us right away so we can see you within 30-60 minutes of the injury.


Even if the tooth is out of the socket longer than an hour, we can often save it if you keep it moist. But the sooner you get emergency care, the better.


To stop bleeding, use a gauze or clean cloth and press it against the area for 15 minutes. You can also use a cold compress to stop bleeding and ease pain at the same time. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, keep applying pressure until you get to our office or your nearby emergency room.

Chipped or cracked teeth

While waiting to get dental care, don’t chew using the affected tooth, avoid foods and beverages that are hot or cold, and don’t eat hard, crunchy, sticky, or sweet foods. If inhaling cold air hurts, bite down on a clean, moist cloth to cover the area but don’t use topical pain relievers.

If you chip a large part of your tooth, put the broken piece in a container of milk and bring it with you. We may be able to reattach the broken piece.

Object stuck in your gums, cheeks, or lips

Don’t remove a sharp or hard object stuck in these soft tissues because you can cause more damage. Instead, call us and then get to our office as soon as possible.

If you’re not sure whether your dental problem needs emergency care, don’t hesitate to call Litchfield Dental Care and get our advice. Otherwise, schedule an appointment at our Litchfield Park, Arizona, office right away.