FAQ - Dental Emergencies

For a dental emergency, you ideally want to contact your regular dentist. If that’s not possible, then contact another dentist near you. You may also want to go directly to an urgent care or an emergency room. (Check the web for locations.) If for whatever reason you can’t reach a dentist or can’t leave your location, consider the following tips for temporary help.

If you have a toothache…

  • Mix a teaspoon of salt with a cup of warm water and gently rinse your mouth with it.
  • Brush the affected area gently and carefully floss the area in case there’s trapped food causing pain.
  • If it’s okay for you to take an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen, then do so. It may relieve your pain temporarily.
  • A topical pain relief gel like Orajel or Anbesol contains the local anesthetic benzocaine. It may provide minimal temporary pain relief.

Please note that even if your toothache pain subsides, you still need to see your dentist to identify the reason for the pain. More important, the pain may likely return and even worsen over time—which is all the more reason to see a dentist as soon as possible.

If you have a permanent or temporary crown that breaks off…

You want to keep the tooth area as clean as possible. Rinse the area with salt water frequently (one teaspoon of table salt to one cup of warm water). If not too sensitive, the area can be gently brushed as well.

It’s possible that the original crown may be re-cemented. However, if too much time goes by, that may not be possible and a new crown will need to be made.

If you have a broken filling or tooth…

Check your local drug store for a temporary filling product. Until you see your dentist, this can be placed over the affected area temporarily. As a last resort, you can use sugar-free gum to cover the area. NOTE: See also “What if I break my tooth in an accident?” located above.

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