Strategies for Managing Common Dental Emergencies

Strategies for Managing Common Dental Emergencies

Not only can injuries or damage to your teeth, gums, tongue, or lips be painful, if not handled properly and tended to in a timely manner, they can require additional (and sometimes expensive) treatment later. At our Carbondale dentist office, we encourage our patients to contact us right away if they have an urgent dental issue.

Here are some of the more common dental emergencies and the best way to manage them:

Knocked-out tooth

If you can find the tooth, hold it by the crown (the top part, as opposed to the roots) and rinse it gently with warm water. Be careful not to remove any tissue. Reinsert the tooth in the socket in its natural position if you can do so without causing further damage to it or to the gum tissues. If that’s not possible, put it into a glass of milk if available, or water with a pinch of salt. Take over-the-counter pain relievers for pain as needed and as directed. See your Carbondale dentist immediately. Teeth can sometimes be saved if properly reinserted within an hour.

Loosened/partially dislodged tooth

Keep the tooth from falling out by applying gentle pressure. Use gauze or paper towel to stop the bleeding and a cold compress to minimize swelling. Take over-the-counter pain relievers as needed following the directions on the package and get to your dentist as soon as possible.

Broken or chipped tooth

Gather any pieces you can find, and rinse them in warm water. Gently swish warm water in your mouth and let it drain out. Use gauze or paper towel to tend to bleeding if there is any, and apply a cold compress outside the mouth to minimize any swelling. Contact your dentist right away.

Lost crown

If you have the crown, put it back in place. Denture adhesive, dental cement, or toothpaste can be used to keep it in place until you can get in to see your dentist. If you are in pain, over-the-counter dental pain relievers or clove oil applied to the site can help.

Severe toothache

Gently rinse your mouth with warm water. If you think you may have food trapped between your teeth, use dental floss to free it. Apply a cold compress to your cheek in the affected area to minimize any swelling. Take over-the-counter pain relievers as needed and as directed. You should not follow the old advice about holding an aspirin against the gums near the tooth. Doing so can injure the gum tissue. Contact your dentist.

Lost filling

If you lose a filling, get in to see your Basalt dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime, use a piece of sugarless gum (sugared gum causes pain) to fill the opening. Over-the-counter dental cement can also be used to fill the hole temporarily. Use over-the-counter pain relievers as needed and according to the directions.

Soft tissue injury

If you injure your lips, cheek, tongue, or gums, the wound is likely to bleed fairly heavily. Apply gauze or a tea bag to the injury site for 15 to 20 minutes to help control the bleeding. You can also apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth in the affected area. If the bleeding doesn’t stop or there is extensive injury, see your dentist or doctor right away, or visit an emergency room.

Abscessed tooth

An abscess is an infection around the root of a tooth or in the space between your teeth and gums. If you don’t treat it in a timely manner, the infection can spread to other parts of the body. If you notice an open sore on your gums or painful swelling, contact your dentist right away. Until you can be seen, gently rinse your mouth with a solution of approximately ½ teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water several times a day and take over-the-counter pain relievers as needed and as directed.

Help with Urgent Dental Issues

Hopefully you and your loved ones won’t ever have a dental emergency. However, if you do, taking the right steps to manage it can minimize the pain and the potential for further damage. Your Basalt dentist office is here if you need us. For questions about a dental emergency or to make an appointment with Dr. Steinbach or Dr. Van Gorden, call 970-279-5647. You can also connect with us online at

We’ve proudly provided comprehensive dental care to Basalt, Aspen, Carbondale, and surrounding Colorado areas for 25 years.