How to Stay Calm During a Dental Emergency

When a dental emergency strikes, one of your greatest hindrances to protecting your smile may be panic (depending on the nature of the emergency). Even if you don’t panic, however, lack of knowledge can cause you to mishandle the situation, which in turn could make your emergency worse than it has to be. To help you stay calm and successfully manage a dental emergency, we explain what, exactly, a dental emergency is, and the steps you should take to minimize the potential dental damage.

When Is It Considered a Dental Emergency?

A dental emergency can mean many different things. Just because it doesn’t seem like an instant threat doesn’t mean that it isn’t. Likewise, just because a tooth hurts doesn’t mean that the situation is necessarily an emergency. In most cases, a dental emergency means that your teeth, periodontal tissues, or other oral structures are faced with an immediate danger of damage, infection, or loss, such as;

  • Structural damage to a tooth (i.e., crack, fracture, or break)
  • A loose tooth, which means the tooth may soon be lost
  • A partially or completely knocked-out (avulsed) tooth
  • A broken or dislodged restoration, such as a dental crown or filling
  • A damaged or lost dental bridge or denture

First-Aid for a Dental Emergency

  • If your tooth is damaged, then rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water to clear away any debris. If the tooth hurts, take an over-the-counter pain reliever until you can reach our office.
  • If your tooth or the surrounding tissues are bleeding, then gently bite down on a clean, moist piece of gauze until the bleeding stops.
  • If your tooth is completely knocked out, then collect it and rinse it carefully in warm water. Be careful to only grab the tooth’s crown (top portion) to avoid damaging its connective tissues and ligaments. Bring the tooth, stored in a small container of milk, to your emergency dental visit; under the right circumstances, we may be able to replant the tooth in its socket.


Dr. Shawn Hofkes and the staff at Cerritos Dental Surgery are highly qualified to address complex issues, including those that require oral surgery to correct. To schedule an appointment or consultation with Dr. Hofkes, contact us today by calling 562-584-4082. We proudly serve patients of all ages from Cerritos, Lakewood, Long Beach, Buena Park, and all surrounding communities.