Dental emergencies, such as a severe toothache or broken crown, tend to happen at the most inopportune time. While the ideal thing to do is call your dentist, this might not always be possible. Many dental emergencies occur late at night, during the weekend, or while on vacation. If you can't get to a dentist right away, follow these tips for handling different types of dental emergencies.


In most cases, a toothache is not a dental emergency that requires urgent treatment. You can take a pain relief medication, but do not put it directly onto the gum, as this burns the sensitive tissue. Rinse your mouth out with warm water and floss around the tooth to remove food particles. Many times, this is what is causing the pain. If it still hurts, take your pain relief medications and get to the dentist, as soon as you can.

Post-Surgical Infection

If the pain you are experiencing is severe, it is not just a toothache and might be due to an infection. A good way to tell between an infection and toothache is that it feels like multiple teeth are hurting at the same time. This may be in one area, or all around your mouth. Other signs of infection include having a fever, having an odd taste in your mouth, a swollen mouth or swollen cheeks, and tender lymph nodes. If you have recently have a procedure, such as getting dental implants, an infection is considered a medical emergency. Go to your nearby hospital if your dentist is not available, such as through

Broken Tooth or Crown

When a tooth or crown breaks, it is important that you keep the area clean. After contacting your dentist, rinse the area with warm water. You need to keep this area clean to prevent infection. For pain, you can take an anti-inflammatory medication and use a cold compress on the area to reduce swelling. If the crown popped off but still fits over your tooth, use dental cement or toothpaste to adhere it temporarily to the tooth until you get into the dentist.

Broken Braces

If you have a metal bracket or wire that has broken or come loose, it may stick out and cut your cheek, gums, or tongue. When there is a sharp edge, try sticking something to the end of it temporarily, such as a cotton ball, gauze, or orthodontic wax. This will prevent it from injuring you until you can get into your orthodontist to repair it. You may also be able to push the wire slightly out of the way of your cheek by using a pencil eraser.

Lost Filling

A lost filling is not usually an emergency situation, and you might not even experience pain. However, you will have an open cavity, so you might have some discomfort. If a filling has fallen out, call your dentist, and then use a temporary solution to fill the cavity. You can use dental cement purchased at your local drug store, or put a piece of sugarless gum in the cavity. Never use gum with sugar.