Important Patient Dos And Don’ts In A Dental Emergency

Dr. Christopher Li Etobicoke - Li Family Dental

By Dr. Christopher Li

June 24, 2021

dental emergency, emergency dental care

Dental emergencies can happen in a split second, or take several days or even months to emerge. In fact, some dental emergencies might not pose the symptoms you expect, including the throbbing pain people most associate with a dental emergency. If you have what you think is a dental emergency, it is important to contact your dentist right away. Although having to go to the dentist immediately might seem like an inconvenience, it is always best to seek an assessment to avoid complications. Here we look at the important patient dos and don’ts when having dental emergency treatments.

Do Recognize The Signs Of A Dental Emergency


First, be sure you understand what constitutes a dental emergency. Some common dental emergencies include:

  • A loose tooth if you have all your adult teeth
  • A severe toothache or discomfort in the mouth
  • Bleeding, painful gums
  • Swelling in your jaw
  • A dental abscess, which is a sore appearing on your gums
  • A canker sore that won’t go away
  • Constant headache that hasn’t been diagnosed as anything else
  • A tooth that was causing pain but suddenly goes completely numb
  • An odd taste in your mouth, especially like metal or blood
  • Obvious damage to a tooth such as a crack, break, knocked out of its socket, etc.
  • Obvious damage to your mouth
  • Accidents to the mouth

All of these signs, with pain or without, can point to a potential dental emergency. Call your dental office right away to set up an assessment.

Don’t Put A Knocked-Out Tooth In Your Pocket


While a lost tooth is an obvious dental emergency, what you do once your tooth is knocked out is very important. First, try to find the tooth so you can bring it to your dental emergency appointment. This is important because your tooth can actually be reattached in many cases. Next, never place your tooth in your pocket or a baggy, or envelope. Instead, you need to keep your tooth moist. Place it in a cup with clean cold water or milk to transport it safely to your dental office.

Do Consider Trying To Reposition Your Knocked-Out Tooth Back In Place


If you feel confident you can, use a mirror to guide yourself to gently put a knocked-out tooth back in place. If it is a molar, gently bite down to hold it in place. For front teeth hold it in place until you reach the dental office.

Don’t Pick Up A Knocked-Out Tooth By The Roots


When retrieving a knocked-out tooth, be very careful to pick it up by the “biting” end instead of the root. The tissue still on the root end will help fuse your tooth back into place.

Do Clean Your Tooth Gently


If you can, rinse your tooth off gently but do not touch the root end, and do not scrub it or use soap. A gentle rinse of water, and then dropping it into milk or water without drying it is the best way to maintain its integrity.

Don’t Ignore A Cracked But Painless Tooth


Although it can be easy to ignore a cracked tooth that doesn’t hurt, it needs to be assessed by a dentist right away. Rinse your mouth out with warm water so food or debris can’t get caught in the crack. If it hurts or swells, use a cold compress on your face to reduce swelling.

Do Use Pressure To Stop Bleeding


In the case of an accident that causes bleeding, rinse away the blood and then if the area continues to bleed, apply pressure using a clean, cold washcloth. Be sure to keep the head upright to avoid choking on the blood.

Don’t Worry About Bringing In Baby Teeth


If the tooth knocked out is a baby tooth, there is no need to bring it to the dental office with you. Save it for the tooth fairy instead!

Do Try To Find Pieces Of A Broken Tooth


If a tooth is broken and the break seems clean, bring the broken tooth piece to the dental office with you immediately. In many cases, the tooth piece can be repaired and reaffixed.

Don’t Ignore Toothaches


Even a toothache that comes and goes could be pointing to a potential dental emergency. Contact your dentist and mention the pain and chances are they will have you come in right away for an assessment. The longer you wait, the more risk you are of developing a far more painful, serious issue.

Do Call The Dentist When You Experience Anything New


Experiencing new issues with your dental health could point to a potential dental emergency. Do not hesitate to call your dentist if you are even mildly concerned about a new symptom. They would prefer to see you at the earliest signs of change as it allows them to take a preventative approach and either address an emergency you might not realize you have, or prevent one from happening through early detection.

Don’t Use Aspirin For Dental Pain


This is especially important if you are experiencing bleeding. Aspirin thins the blood and can make the problem worse. Instead, choose acetaminophen if you can. Cold compresses can also help keep you comfortable until you see your dentist.

Do Consider A Partially Dislodged Or Extruded Tooth An Emergency


Sometimes impact to the face isn’t enough to completely knock your tooth out. If this occurs, your tooth might stick out at an awkward angle, feel loose, or be dislodged on just one side. All of these issues require immediate attention. The sooner you get to the dentist the more chance there is your tooth can be saved.

Don’t Ignore Something Stuck Between Your Teeth


If you can feel something stuck between your teeth but can’t seem to dislodge it with floss, don’t decide you’ll just ignore it as this can lead to infection. Also, don’t try using sharper objects to remove it. Instead, call your dentist and arrange for them to safely dislodge the object using the proper tools.

If you experience a dental emergency or have any concerns about changes to your oral condition, a call to your dentist is always the best step.

Give us a call at 416-232-2033 or request an appointment by clicking here.


Dr. Christopher Li

About the author

Doctor Christopher Li, DDS
Dr. Chris, as he is affectionately known, is a licensed dentist with over 20 years experience. His caring personality makes even the most tentative person at ease. Patients are constantly commenting about how Dr. Chris is incredible at delivering pain-free freezing, and how he has an amazing chair-side manner.  Dr. Chris loves sharing information with his patients and everyone who has teeth about how to care for their teeth, avoid tooth decay, and the treatments available to help them overcome their tooth pain or other dental issues so they can enjoy life and food to its fullest!

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