Common Dental Emergencies and First Aid

Hilarious mini workers fixing a broken tooth on a gurney

Like many other emergencies, dental emergencies can occur at any time for any reason. While some people may be trained in first aid, often those practices may not always be applicable for dental emergencies. Listed below are some common dental emergencies and the first aid necessary to respond to those emergencies until  a trip to the dentist can be made.


While this may seem minor, some toothaches can persist and cause great discomfort. Toothaches can be a sign that something may be wrong, especially if the pain is persistent or increasing. The exact cause of your toothache might remain unknown until you visit the dentist for a specific diagnosis. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to relieve the symptoms. First, check if you have anything lodged between your teeth that may be putting pressure on them. Then rinse with warm water and check again, being sure to floss as well. If this doesn’t work, you can try over the counter pain medication and/or a cold compress to neutralize the persistent aching.

Broken or Fractured Tooth:

Depending on the severity of the fracture, you may need to look for broken tooth fragments. Gather any fragments of the tooth that have broken off and store them in a glass of milk to preserve them. You will then want to flush the affected area with warm water and follow with a cold compress to minimize pain and possible swelling.

Lost Tooth:

If you happen to lose a tooth, the first thing you are going to want to do is find it quickly so that it can be stored appropriately until you can make it to the dentist. Once the tooth has been located, you’ll want to pick it up by the crown, or tip, taking special care not to touch the root. This prevents bacteria from getting inside the tooth. You will then want the place the tooth in a glass of milk to preserve it.

Prolonged Bleeding After Losing a Baby Tooth or Post-Extraction:

Losing a tooth, while naturally or through extraction, can cause prolonged bleeding to occur even after the initial lose. If this happens, place a clean, folded gauze pad on the affected area and bite down for about a half an hour. Replace gauze as needed. You may also use a tea bag if you have no gauze. If the bleeding has not subsided after this time, you may need to visit the emergency room.

Soft Tissue Injury:

First, rinse the affected area with warm water, ensuring that any debris is removed and that the injury site is clean. Then use a gauze square or tea bag and apply pressure for fifteen minutes to stop any bleeding. Finally, use a cold compress to prevent swelling and reduce discomfort.

Jaw Injury:

If the jaw is injured through an impact and appears distorted in any way, take special care to keep the injured person’s face as still as possible. Do not let them eat, talk, or chew and discourage them from yawning or doing anything that requires jaw motion. If you believe their jaw is broken, seek medical attention immediately.