Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies can happen at any time. Knowing what to do when they arise can make a big difference in saving a tooth and/or comforting the child. Here is a quick summary of the most common dental emergencies and the appropriate actions to take.

Objects caught between teeth:
  • Try to gently remove the object with dental floss.
  • Call your dentist if unable to remove the object.


  • An over-the-counter analgesic such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given for pain.
  • DO NOT place aspirin on the gum or on the aching tooth. Contact your dentist.


Soft-tissue injury:
  • Apply direct pressure with a clean cloth or a moist tea bag to the area involved.
  • If bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes or it cannot be controlled by simple pressure, take the child to a hospital emergency room or urgent care.


Fractured or broken tooth:
  • Rinse dirt from injured area with warm water.
  • Control any bleeding by applying gauze to the area and contact your dentist immediately.
  • Locate and bring all broken tooth fragments to your appointment.


Knocked-out baby tooth:
  • Do not place the baby tooth back into the socket. It may cause problems with the development of the permanent tooth.
  • Call your dentist and apply gauze to the area for about 15 minutes to control bleeding.


Knocked-out permanent tooth:
  1. Find the tooth. Handle the tooth by the crown (the white part), not the root (the yellow part).
  2. Reinsert immediately, if possible.
    • If the tooth is dirty, rinse it shortly and gently with cold tap water. DO NOT scrub or remove any tissue from the tooth. DO NOT handle the tooth unnecessarily
  3. Hold the tooth in place. Have the child hold the tooth in place by biting on clean gauze or cloth.
  4. If it’s not possible to put the tooth back into it’s socket, store the tooth in a cup of cold milk. If milk is not available, use saline or have the child spit saliva into a cup and place the injured tooth in the cup, or store the tooth in the cheek of the child’s mouth. Avoid water as a transport medium.
  5. Seek specialized dental treatment immediately. Knocked out teeth having the greatest chance of being saved are those seen by a dentist and returned to the socket within one hour.


Possible broken jaw:
  • Go immediately to the emergency room.
  • Immobilize the jaw and apply a cold compress to control swelling.


Broken braces and wires:
  • Loose or broken appliances which do not bother the child don’t usually require emergency attention.
  • If a broken appliance can be removed easily, take it out. If it cannot, cover the sharp portion with dental wax or a pencil eraser.
  • If a wire is stuck in the gums, cheek or tongue, bring the child to their orthodontist or dentist.

Things to Know

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