Dental Trauma: What do I do in a dental emergency?

Dental Trauma: What do I do in a dental emergency?

A dental emergency can be anything from an injury to your gums or teeth, deteriorating gum disease, or even an annoying toothache that causes ear pain or other symptoms. 

Many dental practitioners provide an emergency number for when patients need urgent dental care, especially after hours.

But, please bear in mind that the longer you wait to have it fixed, the more damage can occur. This will affect the healing of the injury and also the cost of the intervention. 



When toothaches occur,  rinse your mouth with warm water. Dental floss can help to remove lodged food that may be causing discomfort, or touching a nerve.

If the mouth is swollen alongside the pain, apply a cold compress on the affected side on the outside of the mouth. Aspirin or a painkiller rubbed directly onto the gum may burn the gum tissue.  Rather take oral meds, and not topical ones.

Broken or chipped teeth

Before you rinse your mouth with warm water:

  1. Find the fractured pieces of teeth first. You can rinse those as well.
  2. If your mouth is bleeding, use a piece of gauze and wait for the bleeding to stop.
  3. Compress something cold on your mouth, cheek or lip. It helps with bringing the swelling down and relieves pain. 

How to avoid a dental emergency

You can take loads of simple safety precautions to avoid accidents. The teeth aren’t easily injured unless put in precarious situations:

  • Sportspeople should always wear a mouthguard. Whenever you participate in sports or recreational activities, make sure you protect your teeth with a layer of silicone. 
  • Stop chewing ice! It is usually a sign of anaemia (low iron) – so if you feel the compulsion to munch on some ice cubes, see your doctor about upping your iron intake.
  • Don’t munch popcorn kernels, hard candy or anything too hard to bite into without pain! That is how you crack a tooth. 
  • Use scissors to cut things – not your pearly whites!

Dental avulsion

Dental avulsion is described as a complete displacement of a tooth from its socket in the alveolar bone by force, and it is one of the most traumatic dental injuries, which results in exposure of the cells of the periodontal ligament to the external environment, as well as disruption of the blood supply to the pulp.

Also known as a knocked-out tooth, find your tooth and hold it by the crown (the white part of the tooth). Rinse the root of the tooth. Do not scour it. Scrubbing the tooth’s root will remove any exposed tissue fragments. Try to replace the tooth, but don’t force it. Place a piece of cloth over the tooth and bite on it until you get to the dentist.

If you can’t reinsert the tooth, place the tooth in a container of milk or saltwater. Try to get to your dentist within an hour of the tooth being knocked out. 

See your dentist immediately if you have an extruded tooth. On your way to the dentist, a cold compress can help ease the pain. An over-the-counter pain reliever helps too.

Missing crown

WebMD advises that a fallen crown requires a dental appointment. Take the crown with you. Apply a piece of cotton with clove oil on the sensitive area. It assists with pain relief. Clove oil is available at your local pharmacy.

Some people try to replace the crown over the tooth by using over-the-counter dental cement, toothpaste or denture adhesive. It will keep the crown in place until you see a dentist. Whatever you do, do not use super glue. 

Broken braces

Braces help straighten your teeth, but if they break, it becomes a dangerous weapon. The wire can break and stick out of a bracket or band and pokes your cheek, tongue or gum. An eraser end of a pencil can push the wire out into a less threatening position. 

The end of the wire can be covered with orthodontic wax, a cotton ball or gauze. It is a temporary fix until you can see an orthodontist. 

Do not cut the wire. You may swallow it or breathe it into your lungs. 

Abscess infection

The infection is based around the root of a tooth or between your teeth and gums. The infection can damage tissue and your teeth. If it is left untreated, the abscess can spread to different parts of your body.

A dentist should assess a swollen pimple on your gum. The swelling can result in an abscess. If it is an abscess, ease the pain and draw the pus to the surface by rinsing your mouth with mild saltwater a few times a day. 

It happens to everyone.

A dental emergency is unpredictable – from falling off your bike to a car accident, a sports injury, randomly tripping and more. Be careful if you play sports and wear the proper protective gear, especially a mouthguard. 

Glass bottles can cause dental-related injuries, specifically when you drink from them. Hard candies are harmful too. They can easily break or chip your tooth. 

Most importantly, dental trauma requires assistance from a professional. Don’t try to fix anything on your own. The dentist always knows best. 

Affinity Dental has three tiers of dental insurance at different price points. 

If you need to find an Affinity Dental-approved dentist in your area, click here. 


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