How to Handle Dental Emergencies: Immediate Steps and When to See a Dentist

a woman holding her tooth in pain

Dental emergencies can happen at any time, often when we least expect them. Whether it’s a sudden toothache, a knocked-out tooth, or a painful abscess, knowing how to handle these situations promptly can make all the difference. At Village Green Dental, we’re here to guide you through these critical moments with practical steps and professional advice.

In this blog, we’ll cover common dental emergencies, immediate steps to take, and when it’s essential to see an emergency dentist.

Understanding Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies encompass any dental problem requiring immediate attention to save a tooth, stop ongoing tissue bleeding, or alleviate severe pain. Here are some of the most common dental emergencies:

  1. Toothache
  2. Chipped or Broken Teeth
  3. Knocked Out Tooth
  4. Lost Filling or Crown
  5. Abscess

Immediate Steps for Common Dental Emergencies


Toothaches can range from mild discomfort to severe pain, often indicating an underlying issue such as decay, infection, or gum disease.

Immediate Steps:

Rinse Your Mouth: Use warm water to rinse your mouth and dislodge any food particles.

Floss: Gently floss to remove any trapped food that could be causing the pain.

Pain Relief: Use over-the-counter pain relief such as ibuprofen. Avoid placing aspirin directly on the gum.

Cold Compress: Apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek to reduce swelling.

When to See an Emergency Dentist:

If the pain persists for more than a day, is severe, or is accompanied by fever, swelling, or a foul taste, it’s time to see an emergency dentist.

Man with a Toothache
Little girl with a broken tooth

Chipped or Broken Teeth

A chipped or broken tooth can occur from biting down on something hard, a fall, or an injury.

Immediate Steps:

Save the Pieces: Rinse any broken pieces and keep them.

Rinse Your Mouth: Use warm water to clean the area.

Control Bleeding: If there’s bleeding, apply gauze to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops.

Cold Compress: Reduce swelling and pain with a cold compress on the outside of your cheek.

When to See an Emergency Dentist:

See an emergency dentist as soon as possible. Even a small chip can lead to more significant issues if left untreated.

Knocked-Out Tooth

A knocked-out tooth is a severe emergency that requires immediate action to save the tooth.

Immediate Steps:

Handle with Care: Hold the tooth by the crown (the part you chew with), not the root.

Rinse the Tooth: Gently rinse with water if it’s dirty, but don’t scrub or remove any attached tissue.

Keep it Moist: Keeping the tooth moist is crucial for survival.

When to See an Emergency Dentist:

Get to an emergency dentist within 30 minutes for the best chance of saving the tooth.

Person holding a knocked out tooth
Dental Emergency - Lost Filling

Lost Filling or Crown

Losing a filling or crown can be alarming, but it’s typically not an immediate emergency unless it causes severe pain.

Immediate Steps:

Temporary Protection: Use dental cement, available at most drugstores, to temporarily cover the area.

Avoid Sticky Foods: Refrain from eating sticky or hard foods that could further damage the tooth.

When to See an Emergency Dentist:

Schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to repair the filling or crown.


An abscess is a serious infection that can occur at the root of a tooth or between the gum and tooth. It can cause severe pain, swelling, and fever.

Immediate Steps:

Rinse with Salt Water: Use a saltwater solution to help reduce pain and draw the pus to the surface.

Pain Relief: Take over-the-counter pain medications to manage the pain.

When to See an Emergency Dentist:

An abscess requires immediate dental care. Contact your dentist right away to prevent the infection from spreading.

Man showing his tooth abscess

Preventing Dental Emergencies 

While accidents happen, there are several steps you can take to minimize your risk of dental emergencies:

Regular Dental Check-Ups

Routine check-ups help catch problems early before they become emergencies.

Wear Protective Gear

Use mouthguards during sports and night guards if you grind your teeth.

Avoid Hard Foods

Be cautious with foods that can crack or chip teeth, such as hard candies and ice.

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and using mouthwash can help prevent decay and gum disease.


Village Green Dental Care

Emergency Dental Care in Kanata

Handling dental emergencies swiftly and correctly can save your teeth and prevent further complications. At Village Green Dental, we are committed to providing urgent dental care when you need it the most.

If you ever find yourself facing a dental emergency, don’t hesitate to contact us immediately. Your dental health and comfort are our top priorities. Our team of dedicated dental professionals is here to ensure your smile stays healthy and bright.