Your Guide to Handling Common Dental Emergencies En Route to Our Office

If you are experiencing a dental emergency, call Manhasset Dental Arts at (516) 231-6612 right away to let us know you’re on

You’re playing an innocent game of frisbee when all of a sudden — wham! After you regain your senses, you taste blood and — oh, goodness — there’s a soft, empty socket where your front left tooth should be. 

Not all dental emergencies are as clear-cut as that scenario, but no matter the series of events, you should know how to handle an oral crisis. From the staff at Manhasset Dental Arts in Manhasset, York City, New York, here’s everything you need to know about dental emergencies, including when to scram to the dentist and how to handle the emergency en route.

What actually constitutes a dental emergency?

Sudden or unexplained oral symptoms might not require emergency intervention. Even some dental injuries don’t need emergency care. For example, a minor chip to your tooth can usually wait until normal business hours, and swollen gums often get better on their own. 

But a completely cracked tooth or persistently painful and swollen gums definitely warrant a trip to the emergency dentist. Other dental emergencies include teeth that get knocked out, oral infections, and foreign objects stuck in the gums or teeth. 

1. Keep any knocked-out teeth moist. 

In the best-case scenario, you’ll be able to gently place your tooth back in its socket. Make sure to do so without touching the root. If you can’t get the tooth back in, keep it lodged between your gums and the inside of your cheek so it can remain intact. If swallowing the tooth is a concern, place it in milk or in an ADA-approved tooth preservation device. Keeping the tooth in milk, rather than water, helps maintain its structure.

2. Use a cold compress to reduce swelling. 

If you’re experiencing swelling anywhere on your face, hold a cold pack to the swollen area to keep inflammation down. Applying coldness can also help reduce pain. Just be sure you don’t put ice in direct contact with your skin — use a fabric-made cold compress or wrap ice packs in a thin cloth or paper towel to avoid frostbite. You should also apply the cold pack intermittently; for instance, keep it on for 10 minutes, then take it off for five minutes, and repeat until you get to the dentist’s office. 

3. Gently rinse your mouth with warm water. 

If your mouth became dirty as the result of a dental emergency, such as being knocked over outdoors, gently swish warm water around to clean it. Rinsing with warm water can also help remove any blood. Don’t use salt, antiseptic mouthwash, or other rinses at this point: Stick to plain water until your dentist can advise you further. 

4. Don’t try to remove any objects with sharp tools. 

Sometimes dental emergencies arise when foreign objects, such as food or plastic, become lodged in between the teeth. If this has happened to you, first try to gently remove the object with dental floss. If that doesn’t work, or if it’s too painful to floss, just leave the item where it is until you can be seen by an emergency dentist. Do not try to remove the object with a toothpick, plaque scraper, or another sharp object — this increases your risk of tooth and gum damage, and it might actually push the object further in between your teeth. 

5. Apply pressure to stop any bleeding.

Most dental emergencies naturally come with a bit of blood. If you find yourself bleeding, apply gentle pressure with a damp hand towel, tea bag, or gauze if you have some on hand. This can help slow or stop the bleeding and will expedite treatment at the dentist’s office. 

If you are experiencing a dental emergency, call Manhasset Dental Arts at (516) 231-6612 right away to let us know you’re on your way. You can also book an appointment online, but we offer walk-in appointments for dental emergencies.

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