How to Handle a Dental Emergency

woman looking at her teeth in pain in the mirror

Tooth Trouble? Act Fast and Save Your Smile

Dental emergencies can be scary and painful, but knowing how to handle them can make all the difference. At Fountain City Smiles, our Knoxville dentist, Dr. Niral Patel, can help you understand the different types of dental emergencies and what steps to take if one occurs. 

Learn more by dialing (865) 687-8670 or reading the helpful guide below. 

What Is A Dental Emergency?

If you’re experiencing severe pain, bleeding, or swelling in your mouth, or if you have a broken tooth or jaw, it’s considered a dental emergency. Any injury to your mouth that results in bleeding or cuts to your lips, tongue, or inside of your mouth that won’t stop bleeding after applying pressure for 15 minutes is also considered a dental emergency. Additionally, if you have a loose or knocked-out tooth, seek immediate dental care.

Types of Dental Emergencies

There are several common dental emergencies you may encounter, including:

  • Broken or Chipped Tooth: This can be caused by a fall, sports injury, or biting down on something hard.
  • Knocked-Out Tooth: This can happen due to a blow to the face or a fall.
  • Toothache or Abscess: This can occur due to tooth decay or an infection.
  • Lost Filling or Crown: This can occur due to decay, wear and tear, or biting down on something hard.
  • Broken Braces or Wires: This can cause discomfort or injury to the mouth.

What to Do During Dental Emergencies

If you experience a dental emergency, the first thing to do is remain calm. There are some immediate steps you’ll want to take based on the emergency you’re experiencing. 

Broken or Chipped Tooth

If you have a broken or chipped tooth, you should rinse your mouth with warm water and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. Take over-the-counter pain medication if necessary. Cover the broken or chipped tooth with dental cement or sugarless gum to protect it. 

Schedule an appointment with your Knoxville emergency dentist as soon as possible. If you have a broken piece of the tooth, bring it with you so they can repair the tooth.

Knocked-out Tooth

If you have a knocked-out tooth, retrieve it but be careful to hold it by the crown (not the root) and rinse it gently with water. Try to reinsert the tooth into the socket if possible, or place it in a container of milk or saliva to keep it moist. Visit our Knoxville dental office or emergency room immediately. If you can’t reinsert the tooth, the dentist may be able to reimplant it using emergency dental procedures.

Toothache or Abscess

If you’re experiencing a toothache or a dental abscess, rinse your mouth with warm salt water to reduce inflammation and kill bacteria. You can also use dental floss to remove any food particles. Apply a cold compress to your cheek to reduce swelling, and take over-the-counter pain medication if necessary. See your Knoxville emergency dentist as soon as possible to diagnose and treat the underlying cause of the toothache or abscess.

Lost Filling or Crown

Did you lose a dental filling or crown? Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area. Cover the exposed tooth with dental cement or sugarless gum to prevent further damage. Schedule an appointment to see your Knoxville dentist as soon as possible to replace the filling or crown.

Broken Braces or Wires

If you have braces, it’s important to be careful when eating or participating in activities that could damage your braces or wires. However, accidents can still happen, and you may find yourself with a broken bracket or wire. Here’s what you should do if this happens:

  • While a broken bracket or wire can be uncomfortable, it’s not an emergency.
  • If a wire is sticking out and causing discomfort, try using a cotton swab or pencil eraser to push the wire into a more comfortable position.
  • If a bracket is loose or has fallen off, keep it in a safe place and bring it with you to your next orthodontist appointment.
  • Use orthodontic wax to cover any sharp or protruding edges causing discomfort.
  • Avoid hard or sticky foods that could further damage your braces or wires.
  • Contact your Knoxville dentist as soon as possible to schedule an appointment to have the broken bracket or wire repaired.

Dental Emergencies While Traveling

If you have a dental emergency while traveling, try to locate a local dentist or emergency room. It’s also a good idea to carry the contact information for your regular dentist with you while traveling. If you’re unable to find a dentist, contact your Knoxville dentist by dialing (865) 687-8670 for advice.

Preventing Dental Emergencies

While dental emergencies can happen to anyone, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. Here are some tips for preventing dental emergencies:

  • Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting your dentist regularly.
  • Wear a mouthguard while participating in sports or other high-impact activities.
  • Avoid biting down on hard objects like ice, popcorn kernels, or pens.
  • Use scissors to cut things instead of using your teeth.
  • Don’t use your teeth as tools to open packages or bottles.
  • If you have braces, follow your orthodontist’s instructions for care and maintenance.
  • If you grind your teeth at night, talk to your dentist about getting a mouthguard to protect your teeth.

Dental Emergencies Don’t Wait — Neither Should You!

Dental emergencies can happen at any time, so it’s important to be prepared. If you’re experiencing a dental emergency, don’t wait to seek treatment. Contact Fountain City Smiles  by dialing [phone number] as soon as possible. Quick action can mean the difference between saving and losing a tooth. Fountain City Smiles serves new and returning patients from Knoxville and surrounding areas.