Dental Emergencies

Emergency decorative image

During office hours, immediate attention will be given to your child’s situation, and will be seen as soon as possible. After office hours, please give the office call and follow the instructions provided. Your call will be returned as soon as possible. If your child is experiencing a serious or life threatening emergency, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.

Some common tooth emergencies may include:

Knocked Out Tooth

For a Baby Tooth

Control any bleeding by applying pressure to the area. Try to locate the tooth and call the dentist immediately. Do not replant the tooth. The baby tooth should not be replanted because of the potential for subsequent damage to the developing permanent tooth. Bring the knocked out tooth with you to the dentist for examination. Typically no treatment, other than palliative measures, is necessary. If the child has sustained any serious head injury, bring the child immediately to the emergency room or contact their pediatrician.

For Adult Teeth

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!! If the child is not suffering from serious head injury, find the knocked out tooth, hold the tooth by the crown (white portion of the tooth) and rinse off the root of the tooth in water if it’s dirty. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If possible, insert the tooth in its socket using gently pressure. Call the dentist IMMEDIATELY. You can use mild biting pressure using a washcloth or gauze to keep the tooth in place. If the tooth cannot be inserted, put the tooth in a cup of milk or salt water and get to the dentist as quickly as possible. If you are unable to transport the tooth in any of these liquids, it is acceptable to place the tooth in the mouth of the child or the parent, between the cheeks and gums. The faster you act, the better the chances of saving the tooth. Sometimes teeth may appear to be knocked out, but rather their “disappearance” is the result of the tooth being intruded (pushed up) completely within the gums and jaw bone. When the tooth is missing, its presence may only be determined by a professional dental evaluation or with an X-ray. Call the dentist immediately for this assessment.

Other types of Dental Trauma

Bitten Lip or Tongue

The tongue is very vascular and will bleed quite a lot. Clean the area gently with a cloth and apply cold compresses to reduce any swelling. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, go to a hospital emergency room immediately. It is possible the cut may require stitches.

Cracked/Broken Tooth

Quick action can save the tooth, prevent infection and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling if the lip also was injured. If you can find the broken tooth fragment, place it in cold milk or water and bring it with you to the dental office. These fragments may be used in restoring the tooth. Have the child avoid eating anything hard or crunchy, and avoid extreme temperature changes in foods or drinks they may ingest. Call your dentist immediately.

Jaw-Possibly Broken

You need immediate medical attention. A severe head injury can be life-threatening. Keep in mind that an emergency medical team might be able to reach you faster than you can get to the hospital. If you cannot get help quickly, go to your dentist or a hospital emergency department immediately to assess for head/jaw trauma. If severe head or neck trauma is suspected, try not to move the child, and wait for EMS.

Mouth irritation due to orthodontic appliances

Rinse the mouth with warm salt water to relieve any irritation. If possible, cover the offending wire or bracket with orthodontic wax. If the child does not have any wax, place cotton, gauze or chewing gum over the problematic area of the orthodontic appliances and contact the dentist as soon as possible.


Inspect your child’s mouth for swelling or redness around the tooth in question. Clean around the area of the affected tooth. If a visible cavity or hole in the tooth is seen, give the child Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen, and contact the dentist as soon as possible. If there is no visible problem, it may still be a cavity located between the teeth or a gum problem. Rinse the mouth with warm salt water, and see if there are food particles lodged between the teeth or under the gums; attempt flossing to see if any particles can be dislodged. If the child’s face is swollen, apply a cold compress and contact the dentist immediately. This may be the sign that there is an infection somewhere in the mouth.

Objects caught between teeth

Gently try to remove the object with a piece of dental floss. If that doesn’t work, do not attempt to pry it out or use any sharp objects. See the dentist immediately to get assistance.