Finding yourself in the midst of a dental emergency is often unpredictable and uncomfortable! What do you do when that tiny spot on your gums turns into an abscess, you chomp down too hard on a popcorn kernel and it chips a tooth, or a filling or crown comes loose during a meal? While prevention with good dental hygiene and routine checkups are key to preserving oral health, accidents and emergencies are bound to show up every now and again. Here’s what to know about the most common dental emergencies — and the steps you can take to prevent them! 


The Most Common Dental Emergencies

What constitutes a dental emergency? Simply put, it’s anything out of the ordinary. Unusual pain is often a symptom, but emergencies can also happen as a result of accidents or mishaps. Let’s explore some of the most common dental emergencies you should treat by going to the dentist.


Once tooth pain strikes, an emergency dental visit may be in your future. Dental decay, gum infection, damaged fillings, abscesses, or a fractured tooth can all contribute to unexpected tooth pain leading to much-needed dental treatment. Although not all toothaches require an emergency visit and some can go away on their own, it’s best to get any pain checked out by a dental professional before the pain gets worse. 

Cracks, Chips and Breaks

Picture this: You’re biting down on your food, and — crunch! — there’s an unpleasant sensation from your tooth. You feel around with your tongue and find a fresh chip on a previously full tooth. Chips, cracks and breaks are definitely reasons for an emergency dental visit. 

While you’re waiting for your dental appointment, apply a cold pack to the area of your face closest to the injury to help with pain and any swelling. If any blood is present, rinse your mouth with warm water and add gauze to the affected area.

Missing or Knocked-out Tooth

Although teeth have the ability to withstand more than just our daily wear and tear, an accidental fall or a bad hit while playing sports can impactthat beautiful smile of yours. So it should come as no surprise that dental professionals recommend an emergency visit for a missing or knocked-out tooth. If a tooth and root do come out suddenly, try keeping the tooth moist (either in the socket it came out of or in a closed case with milk or your saliva) to save the knocked-out tooth until you see the dentist. 

Losing a Filling or Crown

In order to repair an injured tooth, fillings and crowns are common options for dental professionals. But if these repairs come loose or fall out, you’ll want to be sure to see your dentist for treatment as soon as possible before further damage or infection is caused, if there isn’t then getting a same-day dental crown shouldn’t be a problem


These painful cysts or pimple-like areas that form in the gums of your mouth are infections that, if left untreated, have the ability to spread to other teeth and gum tissue or even other areas of the body. Infections like these are serious and warrant a call to your dentist for an emergency visit. Temporary at-home treatments include a mild salt-water rinse several times a day to keep bacteria at bay, and icing the area of the face above the swelling until you can visit the dentist. 


Steps to Prevent Dental Emergencies

Keep your pearly whites happy and healthy by following a few easy oral health habits to lessen your risk or avoid dental emergencies altogether!

Routine Dental Visits

Simply by showing up to your regularly scheduled dental appointments (usually recommended every six months), general dentistry professionals will  work with your overall oral health, preventing certain dental conditions which could potentially lead to future dental emergencies. Plus, we can identify any minor issues before they become major — saving you time, money, and pain! Dental anxiety can make those regular check-ups feel intimidating, but don’t let that stop you from getting the care you need, because we can help.

Wearing a Mouthguard

Wearing a mouthguard 24/7 isn’t an option, but if you’re an athlete, do what you can to prevent dental emergencies by making sure you’re wearing a mouthguard while you’re playing on the court or field. 

Chewing on Hard Foods or Objects

Teeth are made up of some of the strongest material in your body — but they can still get damaged by biting down on something hard or by using them as scissors to open packages. Avoid mindlessly chewing on pens and other objects, and be mindful while snacking on ice, hard candies and popcorn. Try popping in some sugar-free gum instead. 


Remember, the best way to avoid a dental emergency is prevention. But whether you’re in need of preventative care or find yourself in the middle of a dreaded dental emergency, Rhoades Family Dentistry can provide expert care for you and your family.