What to do in Case of a Dental Emergency?

The Best Dental Experience You’ll Ever Have

Our Mission: To Help You Thrive and to be a Champion of Local Wildlife Conservation

When faced with a dental emergency, it’s crucial to stay calm and assess the situation. Dental emergencies can occur unexpectedly, and being prepared can make all the difference in preserving your oral health and minimizing discomfort. One of the first steps you should take in a dental emergency is to contact a dental professional immediately. Dental experts have the necessary training, skills, and equipment to address emergencies effectively. While waiting for professional help, there are temporary at-home remedies that can help alleviate pain or protect the affected area.


A toothache is one of the most common dental emergencies and can range from mild discomfort to excruciating pain that can greatly affect your daily life. Toothaches are often an indication of an underlying dental issue and should not be ignored. Tooth decay, commonly known as cavities, is a prevalent cause of toothaches. Advanced gum disease is another common cause of toothaches. The infection and inflammation of the gums can result in receding gums, exposing the tooth roots, and causing sensitivity and pain.

How to Handle a Toothache

  • Rinse with Warm Saltwater – Gently rinse your mouth with a warm saltwater solution to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain temporarily.
  • Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers – Take over-the-counter pain relievers, following the recommended dosage instructions, to help manage the pain until you can see a dentist.
  • Contact a Dental Professional – Schedule an appointment with your dentist to diagnose the underlying cause of the toothache and receive appropriate treatment as soon as possible.

Broken or Chipped Tooth

A broken or chipped tooth can occur for various reasons, such as biting down on a hard object, sustaining a facial injury, or experiencing tooth decay. It is important to address a broken or chipped tooth promptly to prevent further damage and potential pain. You may notice a visible fracture or chip on the tooth, ranging from a minor enamel chip to a more extensive breakage that exposes the inner layers of the tooth. A broken tooth can lead to heightened sensitivity, particularly when exposed to hot or cold temperatures or biting down on food.

How to Handle a Broken or Chipped Tooth

  • Rinse Your Mouth – Gently rinse your mouth with warm water to remove debris or food particles. 
  • Save Broken Pieces – If you find any broken tooth fragments, rinse them gently and store them in a clean container.
  • Seek Professional Dental Care – Contact your dentist immediately to evaluate the extent of the damage and discuss appropriate treatment options.

Knocked-out Tooth

Having a tooth knocked out, also known as an avulsed tooth, is a dental emergency requiring immediate attention. Whether it occurs due to a sports injury, an accident, or a fall, acting swiftly and correctly can significantly increase the chances of saving the tooth. Falling or experiencing a blow to the face during everyday activities can cause a tooth to dislodge, leading to sensitivity and inflammation around the affected area. Contact sports or physical activities without proper mouthguard protection can also lead to a knocked-out tooth.

How to Handle a Knocked-Out Tooth

  • Handle the Tooth Carefully – Touch only the crown (visible part) of the tooth, avoiding contact with the root.
  • Rinse the Tooth – Gently rinse the tooth with water or milk to remove dirt, but avoid scrubbing or using soap or chemicals.
  • Reinsert the Tooth, if Possible – If comfortable, reinsert the tooth into the socket, applying light pressure to hold it in place.
  • Preserve the Tooth – If reinsertion is impossible, place the tooth in a container of milk, saline solution, or the person’s saliva to keep it moist.

Lost or Loose Dental Restoration

A lost or loose dental restoration, such as a filling or crown, can cause discomfort and expose the affected tooth to further damage or sensitivity. It’s important to address this dental emergency promptly to prevent complications and preserve the integrity of your tooth. Over time, dental restorations may become worn, loose, or dislodged due to regular use and biting forces. If the underlying tooth structure supporting the restoration becomes decayed or weakened, it can also lead to the loss or loosening of the restoration.

How to Handle a Lost or Loose Dental Restoration

  • Remove the Restoration, if Possible – If the dental restoration is completely dislodged and causing discomfort, carefully remove it from your mouth. Handle it gently and store it in a clean container to bring it to the dental appointment.
  • Contact your Dental Provider – Informing your dentist about a lost or loose dental restoration as soon as possible allows them to provide you with the correct course of action based on your unique circumstances.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries in the oral cavity, such as cuts, lacerations, or tears to the lips, gums, or tongue, can occur during accidents, falls, or accidental bites. While these injuries can be painful and cause bleeding, prompt care and appropriate measures can aid in their healing and prevent complications. Biting the lip, cheek, or tongue accidentally can cause cuts or tears leading to inflammation, bleeding, and pain.

How to Handle Soft Tissue Injuries

  • Cleanse the Area – Rinse your mouth gently with warm water to cleanse the injured area and remove debris or blood. Avoid using mouthwash or harsh antiseptics.
  • Apply Gentle Pressure – If the injury is bleeding, apply gentle pressure using a clean, damp cloth or gauze pad to control the bleeding.
  • Cold Compress – To reduce swelling and alleviate pain, apply a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a thin cloth to the affected area for short intervals.
  • Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can help reduce pain and inflammation.

Emergency Dental Care in Portland, ME

By understanding common dental emergencies, their causes, and how to handle them, you can take the right steps when faced with unexpected situations. Staying calm and contacting a dental professional immediately is essential in managing dental emergencies effectively. If you experience a dental emergency in the Portland, ME, area, don’t hesitate to contact Thrive Dental Studio to receive immediate care. Dr. Figueredo and his team are here to help you with all your dental needs.

Dan Figueiredo, DMD

Dan Figueiredo, DMD

Dr. Dan Figueiredo, a graduate of Tufts University School of Dentistry, blends his artistic talent and scientific acumen to provide high-quality, patient-centric dental care in Maine. Recognized for his transparent communication and his commitment to continuous learning, he stays abreast of the latest dental advancements through regular attendance at esteemed dental institutes and continuous education courses. Beyond his practice, he passionately embraces Maine’s outdoor heritage, participating in competitive trap and sporting clays shooting, engaging in seasonal outdoor activities, and eagerly anticipating his next international travel adventure.