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What to Do in Case of a Dental Emergency: Age-Specific Guidelines

Emergencies can be stressful, but knowing what to do in case of a dental emergency can help you navigate the situation more effectively. Below are some age-specific guidelines for dealing with dental emergencies.


But first, if you are an existing patient in our practice, please contact us as soon as possible after experiencing an emergency related to your dental or oral health. Someone from our team is on call 24/7, so we recommend you call our office at 214-997-0366 during or after business hours or on the weekend so we can handle your issue ASAP, whether that means we troubleshoot over the phone or we need to arrange an emergency in-clinic visit. If you are NOT in Puerto Rico, we still recommend you call the office ASAP; as you know, we take extensive records on all of our patients, so in the case there is an emergency, we can pull up your records to evaluate the history and likely issue you are experiencing to better stabilize your condition remotely and/or give you the best advice for next steps wherever you might be.


Bumps to the mouth are a frequent incident for young kids. Knowing what to do in case of emergency can help save a child's smile.
Pediatric Dental Trauma

Children (0-10 years)

Common Emergencies: Toothaches, chipped or broken teeth, knocked out teeth

First, you want to confirm there is no head injury that would take immediate priority to address. If there is concern with potential head trauma or more severe bodily injury, please go to the emergency room and/or contact your pediatrician.

Assuming the emergency is isolated to the mouth only, it is important first to explain to parents that it is very important to stay calm. Often, there appears to be a lot of blood after a dental injury, but it typically is a mixture of a lot of saliva and a little blood that they are not swallowing, so it appears to be pouring out onto their lips/face/clothes; so even though it might look frightening, it's important to stay calm if you can manage it to help your child to stay calm while you evaluate the situation.

  1. Toothaches: Rinse the mouth with warm salt water and gently brush and floss to remove any trapped food or debris that may be present. Do not put aspirin or painkillers against the gums near the aching tooth as it can burn the gum tissue. If pain persists, contact our office immediately.

  2. Chipped or Broken Teeth: If possible, locate the broken piece and place in saline solution or cow's milk. Rinse the child's mouth with warm water and apply a cold compress to contain bleeding and reduce swelling. Call us immediately to arrange an emergency visit in the office.

  3. Knocked-Out Teeth: For a knocked-out baby tooth, don't try to put it back into the socket, but contact for further follow up. For a knocked-out permanent tooth, try to put it back in place without touching the root. If that's not possible, keep it moist by placing it in milk or a tooth preservation product (ie. saline solution). Get to the dentist immediately.

Potential Outcomes: In many cases, prompt care can save the tooth and prevent infections. In some cases, a dental crown or other restorative procedure may be necessary.


Adolescents (11-17 years)

Common Emergencies: Broken braces, toothaches, sports-related injuries

  1. Broken Braces: If a wire breaks or sticks out and is poking your cheek, tongue, or gum, try using the eraser end of a pencil to push the wire into a more comfortable position. If you can't reposition the wire, cover the end with orthodontic wax, a small cotton ball, or piece of gauze until you can get to your orthodontist or dentist. Do not cut the wire.

  2. Toothaches/Sports-related Injuries: First, it is always important to wear a mouth guard during any sporting activity. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". But in the case that there is still an injury, follow the same procedures as for children: For a knocked-out permanent tooth, try to put it back in place without touching the root. If that's not possible, keep it moist by placing it in milk or a tooth preservation product (ie. saline solution). Get to the dentist immediately.

Potential Outcomes: In the case of broken braces, the orthodontist may need to replace or adjust the braces. For toothaches or sports injuries, root canal treatment, tooth extraction, or restorative work might be necessary.

Lost fillings, broken crowns and teeth, dental abscesses
Adult Dental Emergencies

Adults (18 and over)

Common Emergencies: Lost fillings, lost crowns, abscesses

  1. Lost Fillings: Stick a sugarless gum into the cavity (do not use sugar-filled gum) or an over-the-counter dental cement or temporary filling. Contact our office as soon as possible to get scheduled to address the concern.

  2. Lost Crowns: Try to put the crown back in place using a dental cement, toothpaste, or denture adhesive until you can see your dentist. Don't use super glue.

  3. Abscesses: These are infections that occur around the root of a tooth or in the space between the teeth and gums. They can cause serious damage if not treated promptly. Rinse your mouth with a mild salt-water solution (1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water) several times a day and contact your dentist immediately. Do not begin to take any prescription medication (especially antibiotics) until you are seen by a dentist; initiating the wrong medication can do more harm than good and/or it can interfere with the diagnostic process to confirm the issue and proceed with treatment.

Potential Outcomes: Depending on the severity, the dentist may replace lost fillings or crowns, or perform a root canal treatment in case of abscesses. If infections are not promptly treated, they could lead to more serious complications.


It is important to note that many adult emergencies can be avoided with routine dental visits to monitor your overall health and the stability of your occlusion and any restorations previously placed.


Always remember that these are just immediate measures. The most important thing to do in a dental emergency is to contact our team as soon as possible. We are trained to handle any dental emergency and can provide the best advice on what to do.

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