Emergency Dentistry

Dental emergencies are serious – without immediate care, you may experience unnecessary pain, develop an infection, or even lose a tooth. But if you are like many people, you may not what a dental emergency is or how to deal with it until you see a dentist. You may not realize that a toothache is a dental emergency, for example, or that you can ease the pain until you can visit a dentist.

Fortunately, Dr. Ward in Cincinnati provides emergency dental care, so we are always glad to help our patients understand what to do if they should ever have or encounter a dental emergency.

Types of Dental Emergencies and What to do if You Have One

If you think you are having a dental emergency, call our dentist office in Cincinnati right away – we’ll let you know how quickly you should be seen and any steps you should take before you come. In the meantime, here is a list of common dental emergencies and what you should do if you have one.


Never ignore pain, as it is a warning that something is wrong. This is especially true for severe tooth pain – the longer you wait, the more complicated and expensive the treatment will be.

To alleviate pain until you can see a dentist, try rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater. The swishing action may dislodge any food trapped between your teeth, which could be causing the pain. The saltwater works as a disinfectant to kill bacteria, and it can reduce inflammation and pain.

Applying a warm compress to the affected area on your face can help reduce pain; a cold compress can reduce swelling. Take acetaminophen or other over-the-counter analgesic to further reduce pain.  

Cut tongue, cheek or lip

Cutting your cheek, tongue, or lip can be scary, especially if it bleeds a lot. To stop the bleeding, apply pressure to the cut; use a sterile gauze to reduce the risk of complications and infections. Assess the wound as soon as possible – if the cut looks significant or if the bleeding does not stop or slow down, contact your emergency dentist or emergency department.

Broken, cracked, or chipped tooth

Rinse the area with warm – not hot or cold – water. Place a cold compress over the site of the injury to reduce pain and swelling.

If possible, recover any pieces of the broken tooth, rinse the fragments in warm water, and bring them with you to the dentist. While there is no guarantee, there is a very good chance that your dentist can reattach the broken piece to the tooth. Don’t worry if you can’t find the fragments, though, as our dentist can build the tooth back up with tooth-colored dental bonding material. Depending on the severity of the break, crack or chip, we may recommend the placement of a dental crown, which is a cap that holds your tooth together.

Knocked-out permanent tooth

Most importantly, stop the bleeding by pressing a piece of sterile gauze to the tooth socket.

Recover the tooth – be sure to hold it by the top, or crown, rather than by the root. Rinse the tooth gently, but avoid over-handling or over-cleaning the tooth. Do not remove any attached tissue, as it will help secure the tooth.

Try putting the tooth back into its socket, but do not force it. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, gently immerse it in a cup of milk or water, and bring it with you to the emergency dentist.

A knocked-out baby tooth can be a dental emergency in some cases. A baby tooth, also known as a primary tooth, works as a “placeholder” that helps the permanent tooth come into the right place on a child’s jaw. Losing a primary tooth too early can allow the permanent tooth to come in crooked or in the wrong place. A knocked-out baby tooth is also an emergency if it causes pain or bleeding.

Broken wires and braces

A broken wire or braces can poke your cheek, gums, or tongue to cause pain and bleeding. Left unaddressed, the sore from a broken wire can become infected. What’s more, broken braces cannot move your teeth in the right direction – they may even move your teeth in the wrong direction to undo all of your orthodontic work.

Try pushing the bent or broken piece so that it does not poke you until you can see your dentist. If you cannot, put a cotton swab between the broken part and the part of your mouth it is poking; leave the wire as it is, as you may accidentally swallow it if you cut it or break it.

If you're in need, let us know, Dr. Ivory Ward at Graceful Grins is here to help!

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