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Family Care Dental Clinic

Advice for Handling Dental Emergencies

Advice for Handling Dental Emergencies

On vacation or close to home, summer fun can lead to dental emergencies. Playing, exercising and even eating can create an emergency to spoil your fun. Oral injuries can be painful and should be treated by your dentist as soon as possible, but what do you do in the meantime? Knowing what to do in a dental emergency can take away a lot of the stress and ensure a better outcome.

Some tooth issues are relatively minor, but inconvenient all the same. For toothaches, rinse the mouth with warm water to clean it out. Gently use dental floss to remove any food caught between the teeth. Do not put aspirin on the aching tooth or gum tissues. For objects stuck in the mouth, try to gently remove with floss but do not try to remove them with sharp or pointed instruments.

A fractured or dislodged filling

A fractured or dislodged filling may cause discomfort or sharp pain due to jagged edges, and there can be aesthetic concerns if the filling is in a visible area. Be aware of the sharp edges and keep the tongue from being cut. In some cases, filling loss can cause irritation to the side of the cheek and potentially lead to an ulcer. Sharp edges can easily be dealt with by your dentist, who can level the filling or tooth edges in an emergency appointment.

When your tooth breaks

When your tooth breaks, cracks, becomes loose or is knocked out, it becomes a dental emergency. In some cases, a dental crown can come off your tooth and your lips, gums or cheeks can be cut. Some emergencies can be avoided with simple precautions, such as wearing a mouth guard while you’re playing sports and avoiding hard foods that can crack or break your teeth. Avoid the temptation to chew on the ice in those cool drinks, or the popcorn kernels at the movies.

Despite precautions and keeping a close eye on the kids, accidents happen. If your tooth cracks or breaks, the tooth will have the best chance of surviving the trauma if you see your dentist within one hour of the incident. Call your dentist’s office immediately.

If a tooth is knocked out, the handling of the broken tooth is important. Do not touch the root (the point at the bottom); handle the tooth by its crown (the top). The cells at the root where it has torn loose are necessary to the reattachment of the tooth to bone. Gently rinse the tooth in water to remove any dirt particles, but avoid scrubbing or rubbing the root.

This may sound silly, but it is best to tuck the tooth in your mouth, between cheek and gum, to keep it moist with your own saliva until you get to the dentist. If that is not possible, wrap it in a clean cloth or gauze and submerge it in milk or a saline solution. It is critical that the tooth remain moist to keep tissue alive. If it is a child’s baby tooth, it will not be replanted, but your dentist or his staff should see the child immediately to check for any remaining pieces or gum damage.

If a tooth has become loose

If a tooth has become loose or pushed out of position, call your dentist right away to schedule an emergency appointment. While waiting to see the dentist, you can attempt to reposition the tooth to its normal alignment using gentle finger pressure. If it is your child’s tooth, try to keep those little fingers away from the injury and gently right the tooth yourself. Don’t use force that may further distress the child and cause damage to the root cells.

Chips or fractures to the teeth

Chips or fractures to the teeth happen in varying degrees. Chipped teeth are generally minor fractures, while damage to the enamel, tissue and/or pulp is considered a moderate fracture. In the case of a severe fracture, the tooth likely has been traumatized to the point that it cannot be saved.

For a fractured tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water and use an ice pack or cold compress on your face to reduce the swelling. You may take ibuprofen for the pain and swelling but avoid aspirin, which may increase bleeding. Again, see your dentist as soon as possible. A skilled dentist can usually smooth minor tooth fractures, but some fractures may require restorative procedures. If you can find the broken tooth fragment, bring it with you to the dentist. Taking the right precautions to save a tooth is much better than losing it.

If an accident is severe enough to break or dislodge a tooth, it may also cause serious injuries inside your mouth. Look for tears or cuts, puncture wounds and lacerations to your cheeks, lips or tongue. Any wound to the inside of your mouth should be rinsed clean with warm water, and you should contact your dentist right away. If no dentist is available, a trip to the emergency room may avoid bleeding or infection problems. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.


If you are traveling outside the country and have dental crowns or appliances, schedule a quick dental appointment before you go, to make sure everything is in good shape so you can have a great time.

Contact Family Care Dental Clinic for your consultation today!

Located in the heart of North Vancouver, BC, Family Care Dental Clinic is a group of passionate dentists and dental experts who are committed to providing patients with exceptional dental care in a modern and relaxing environment. We at Family Care Dental Clinic offer our clients a wide range of comprehensive dental services for the whole family. Call (604) 987-3545 or write us at to schedule an appointment with a member of our excellent team!

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