Have a Dental Emergency?

In the event of a dental emergency, promptly taking the proper steps can make a significant difference in the outcome.

Seeking immediate attention from a dental professional can help alleviate severe pain, stop ongoing tissue bleeding, or even save a tooth. At Smith Family Dentistry, Randolph, NJ, Dr. Edward J Smith and his team are available to assist. Here are general guidelines on what to do for various dental emergencies.

Dental emergencies can vary in severity but generally include the following examples:


Severe, persistent tooth pain can indicate an infection or abscess that needs urgent treatment. Try these steps until a dental professional can be seen:

  • Rinse your mouth with warm water.
  • Use dental floss to remove any food particles or debris caught between your teeth.
  • Avoid putting aspirin or painkillers against the gums near the aching tooth, as it may burn the gum tissue.

Knocked-Out Tooth

In cases of trauma and a tooth coming out, immediate dental care can sometimes save the tooth, especially if re-implanted within an hour. Pay close attention to the following:

  • Handle the tooth by the crown (the part of the tooth exposed above the gums in the mouth), not by the root.
  • Rinse the tooth gently in milk (preferably) or water if it’s dirty. Do not scrub or remove any attached tissue fragments.
  • Try to reinsert the tooth into its socket. Keep it moist in milk, saline solution, or saliva if not possible.
  • See a dentist immediately. Time is critical for saving the tooth, ideally within 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Loose or Displaced Tooth

A tooth loose or out of alignment after an injury or trauma should be addressed promptly. Follow these guidelines immediately:

  • Use very light finger pressure to restore the tooth to its original position.
  • Please do not force it.
  • Bite down to keep the tooth from moving and see a dentist immediately.

Chipped, Cracked, or Fractured Teeth

While small chips might not be urgent, a significant tooth crack or fracture often involves pain and indicates that the inside of a tooth may be damaged. Try these options and schedule time with a dental professional as soon as possible:

  • Rinse your mouth with warm water immediately to clean the area for a significant fracture.
  • Apply a cold compress to the face to reduce swelling.
  • Go to the dentist immediately. Bring any pieces of the tooth with you, if possible.

Dental Abscess

An abscess is a localized infection at the root of a tooth or between the gums and teeth. It’s a severe condition that can lead to more significant infections if not treated. Recommended next steps:

  • Rinse your mouth with a mild salt-water solution (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water) several times daily to reduce pain and draw the pus to the surface.
  • See a dentist as soon as possible. Abscesses can lead to more severe infections if not treated.

Bleeding Gums

While occasional bleeding might not be an emergency, profuse or ongoing bleeding from the gums can indicate a severe health condition. If you are experiencing bleeding gums:

  • Apply pressure to the area with a cold compress.
  • If bleeding is severe or doesn’t stop, seek immediate dental attention.

Lost Filling or Crown

If a filling or crown falls out, the tooth can become sensitive or prone to further damage, requiring prompt attention. You can:

  • Temporarily place a piece of sugarless gum into the cavity or use over-the-counter dental cement for a lost filling.
  • If a crown falls off, try to fit it back on the tooth. Before doing so, coat the inner surface with over-the-counter dental cement, toothpaste, or denture adhesive to help hold it in place. See a dentist as soon as possible.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Injuries to the gums, tongue, cheeks, or lips that result in significant bleeding or lacerations may need emergency dental care. Seek professional dental assistance immediately, following these guidelines:

  • Rinse your mouth with a mild salt-water solution.
  • Apply pressure to the bleeding site with a piece of gauze or tea bag for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • To control bleeding and relieve pain, apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • If bleeding doesn’t stop, go to the emergency room or see a dentist immediately.

Severe Swelling

Swelling of the face or gums, especially if it’s severe or accompanied by fever, can indicate an infection that needs urgent treatment. It is advisable to:

  • Apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth or cheek.
  • See a dentist immediately, as severe swelling can indicate a serious infection requiring antibiotics and further treatment.

Jaw Injuries

Trauma to the jaw that results in severe pain, difficulty moving the jaw, or misalignment can be a dental emergency. Take the following steps:

  • Apply a cold compress to reduce swelling.
  • Immediately go to the emergency room or an oral surgeon, as you may need X-rays to determine the extent of the injury.

It’s crucial to follow up with a dentist as soon as possible for all dental emergencies, even if the immediate pain or issue seems to have subsided. Some injuries or infections can have delayed effects that only professionals can diagnose and treat appropriately. In any of these situations, contacting a dentist or visiting an emergency dental clinic as soon as possible is essential. Some dental offices also offer advice over the phone on how to handle the situation until you can receive treatment. Call now. We are here to assist and help in your time of need.

We are here to help, and will work with you to get you scheduled with Dr. Edward J Smith and his team immediately. Call us now at (973) 895-5111.

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