Tooth damage is scary and can ruin your holidays. In a dental emergency, you need to figure out what kind of help you need and how to get it, so that you can get back to the party.
Step 1: Assess the situation.
Dental emergencies can range from “Call 911” to “You can wait a week or so”, so it’s important to assess the situation before you call.
- If the patient is bleeding excessively, has lost consciousness, even briefly, or is confused - Call 911 or head to the ER. This needs immediate assessment and treatment in a medical setting.
- If the dental emergency included trauma to the face, neck, or jaw – It’s time to go to the ER. You may have other injuries and need more treatment.
- If you’ve lost a tooth, but are otherwise fine - Call your dentist, Leave a message, then begin first aid for a lost tooth. (We’ll outline that below.)
- If you’ve lost a restoration or have chipped, cracked, or broken a tooth – Call your dentist, leave a message, and then follow the steps below.
Important: When you call your dentist on a weekend, on a holiday, or overnight, you must LEAVE A MESSAGE so that they will call you back.
Step 2: If the injury does not require the ER, use dental first aid.
While you wait for your dentist’s office to call you back, perform first aid.
First aid for a lost tooth
According to the American Dental Association, the most important thing to do is to keep your lost tooth moist. You can hold it inside your cheek, or put it in milk to help keep the living cells in the tooth from dying. If you can put it back into the socket without touching the root, you can replace it in your mouth.
If your dentist can see you quickly, it is sometimes possible to save the tooth. If you cannot reach your dentist, it is OK to see a different dentist in this situation.
First aid for a chipped, cracked, or broken tooth, or for a damaged restoration
Time is less important for these sorts of injuries.
- Rinse your mouth with warm water.
- Save any parts that you can find.
- Wait for further instructions from your dentist.
- While you wait for your appointment, you may use OTC medications for pain and swelling.
- Do not chew using the damaged tooth.
- If your tooth is injuring your mouth, you can use ADA approved dental way to cover the injury.
Tooth injuries are scary, especially when the dental office is closed. If you stay calm and call your dentist, you can get back to celebrating without fear.