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What to do in a Dental Emergency

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What to do in a Dental Emergency

You’re dozing off late at night, nearly asleep, when a shooting pain jolts through your jaw. It came out of nowhere and shocked you awake – and now the pain remains. Your gums and molars feel like they’re throbbing, and every now and again that same burst of pain hits again. The ache is so severe you can’t fall asleep. What do you do?


It’s a holiday weekend, and the whole family is together enjoying the summer weather. The kids are playing baseball in the backyard while all the adults mill around, watching the game and enjoying each other’s company. Then – WHACK! Before you can react, a foul ball flies at you, hitting you square in the mouth and knocking several front teeth out and chipping others. What do you do?


Dental emergencies usually come out of nowhere, so when they happen, it’s important you already have a plan in place to take care of the issue. Not all dental problems constitute emergencies, but examples like those above certainly do! Some emergencies are indicative of a more significant internal problem, but even external accidents that may result in broken or extruded teeth require quick treatment. Severe toothaches, swelling of your face and/or jaw, deep cuts on your lips or gums that don’t heal, and more mean you need to get to a medical expert – fast.


First and foremost, evaluate if you need to go to the emergency room. A jaw fracture or severely cut soft tissue require immediate attention from medical professionals. Prescription medications issued by emergency room providers may also help reduce pain and swelling. If you don’t need to go to the ER, then call our team at Guffee Dental right away, at (864) 226-1752. Even if it’s an after-hours emergency, leave a voicemail so our staff can get back with you as quickly as possible. We want to get you in as soon as we can to address the problem and alleviate your pain!


In the meantime, there are several ways you can manage common dental emergencies.

  • If you have a severe toothache or badly cracked tooth, rinse with warm water to help clean the area and sooth the nerve endings.
  • If your mouth is swollen, apply an ice pack or cold compress to the swollen area. Over-the-counter pain relievers may also help reduce swelling and relieve the ache.
  • If your tooth was knocked out, retrieve it if possible and rinse the tooth root with water. If you can, try to put it back in the socket – although you should never force it back in. It’s more likely a dentist can save the tooth when it’s put back in the socket within an hour of being dislodged.
  • If a tooth socket is bleeding, or you have a soft tissue injury on your tongue, cheeks, gums, or lips, try to staunch the bleeding. Rinse with a mild salt water (saline) solution or warm water. Then, moisten a piece of gauze and hold it to the bleeding area with slight pressure. If the bleeding does not stop after 15 to 20 minutes, seek immediate medical attention.


Remember, not every dental problem is a dental emergency. In cases of dull toothaches, small chips or cracks that aren’t causing pain, or objects lodged in your teeth or gums, you can wait until normal hours to seek dental attention. However, as with all dental concerns, prompt treatment is key: contact our team at Guffee Dental Associates with any questions or concerns you have about your own dental health, and we’ll be glad to fix you right back up.