West 85th Dental
8561 8A Ave SW Calgary AB T3H 0V5 (403) 246-5545

(587) 355-4332

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What to Do for a Dental/Tooth Emergency

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You usually only plan to see your dentist for a regular exam and cleaning, but accidents can happen. How do you know what to do if you or someone you know experiences a dental emergency

Your dentist can help if you have an emergency, but there are temporary solutions you should be aware of. Continue reading to learn more about what you can do in a dental emergency. 

What To Do

There are many different dental emergencies you can run into. Each requires its own specific treatments, but they all may require a trip to your dentist. If you experience a dental emergency, there are temporary solutions you can follow until you can be seen by your dentist: 


You can experience facial swelling for a variety of reasons. It is typically a bodily reaction to protect or fight an infection or injury. If you experience a dental emergency, reduce swelling with a cold compress. Place ice or a cold pack wrapped in a thin towel on the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. 


Pain-relieving medication helps you stay as comfortable as possible until you can be seen by a dentist. Cold compresses and over-the-counter medication are also effective forms of relief. If you’re experiencing extreme pain or cannot feel any relief from these solutions, visit your dentist as soon as possible. 


Our mouths may bleed when experiencing trauma. This can include a bit cheek or tongue, a chipped or broken tooth, or a dislodged tooth. It is vital to stop any bleeding in your mouth. 

Place clean cloth or gauze into your mouth and apply firm pressure on the affected area. If bleeding does not stop, seek medical care right away.


If you chip, break, or lose a tooth, you may have missing pieces inside of your mouth. Have someone inspect your mouth and remove any debris. If you’ve lost or chipped a tooth, save the pieces and seek out a professional immediately. 

It’s important to be seen by your dentist as quickly as possible because they can provide you with the correct treatments and solutions for your specific emergency. If you cannot reach your dentist in an urgent situation, seek immediate medical care.

Each dental emergency is different, but they can have similar causes. 

Woman clutching her cheek in pain from a toothache

Common Causes

There is a cause for any dental emergency you may experience. An emergency can happen suddenly or develop over time. There are several common causes for dental emergencies, including: 

Physical Trauma

Physical trauma to the mouth can happen for a variety of reasons including sports injuries, falls, and accidents. You may experience pain, swelling, and bleeding. Reduce pain and keep yourself comfortable until you can be assessed. 


Infections may develop over time from bacteria in your mouth. Pain, swelling, tooth sensitivity, and fever are common symptoms of a possible infection. It’s important to keep the affected area as clean as possible. Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics and pain medication for your recovery. 


Any debris trapped between your teeth can lead to a dental emergency. If you have something trapped between your teeth, dental floss can help remove the object safely. Do not try to force objects loose if they are stuck and contact your dentist. 


Tooth decay can cause dental emergencies when not properly addressed. If a cavity is not treated, it can worsen and lead to severe toothache. Symptoms of tooth decay can include pain and sensitivity. 

Knowing the causes and temporary solutions to a dental emergency is important. Each situation can be different, so what should you be doing in a specific dental emergency?

Common Dental Emergencies 

There are a variety of dental emergencies that need to be addressed differently. Some examples of common dental emergencies include: 

Abscessed Tooth

An abscessed tooth is caused by a pocket of pus developing from a bacterial infection. Symptoms of a tooth abscess include: 

  • Tooth sensitivity 
  • Pressure sensitivity
  • Fever
  • Throbbing toothache

Reduce pain and swelling with a cold compress on your cheek. Use ice or a cold pack wrapped in a thin cloth to apply pressure for only 10 to 20 minutes. Over-the-counter medication is useful for pain relief. 


Many will experience a toothache at some point in their lives. Toothaches can be caused by:

  • Cavities 
  • Tooth fractures 
  • Inflammation or infection
  • Food & debris caught between teeth

A toothache may not worry you at first, but any persistent pain, swelling, or inflammation warrants a trip to your dentist. Medications such as Tylenol and Advil can help with any pain. 

Chipped Or Broken Tooth

A chipped or broken tooth can happen for a variety of reasons. Damage can vary from minor (chips, cracks, or breaks in the enamel) to severe (damage to the inner layers).  

Apply a cold compress to the cheek outside of the affected area if you chip your tooth. Stop any potential bleeding with gauze and visit your dentist as soon as you can. 

There are many ways to handle a dental emergency, but it can be difficult to know what to do right away. Stop any bleeding, reduce swelling and pain, remove any debris from your mouth, and visit your dentist as soon as possible.

See Your Dentist 

Knowing what to do in a dental emergency can help save you and your teeth from a worse situation. If you experience a dental emergency, pain, discomfort, or any other symptoms, contact your dentist.


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  • Written by Dr. Reena Kaloti

    Dr. Kaloti enjoys helping people, both at personally and professionally, and have fun while doing so. She always knew she wanted a job that allowed her to do that, and spent her childhood babysitting, lifeguarding, teaching swimming lessons, and volunteering in the geriatrics unit of her local hospital. She enjoys working with patients of all ages.

    Dr. Kaloti started studying dentistry in 2000 and graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with her DMD. After practicing dentistry for five years, she decided to take some time to focus on building her family. When she returned to work, Dr. Kaloti and Dr. Minhas decided to partner up and open up West 85th Dental. Their vision was to create a warm, inviting office and a pleasant and relaxing experience that would make their patients look forward to visiting.

    At West 85th Dental, we pride ourselves on providing comprehensive dental care to all our patients by providing thorough examinations, explaining our findings clearly, educating our patients about oral hygiene, and providing multiple treatment options that allow our patients to make educated decisions about their health and care.

    When Dr. Kaloti is not seeing patients, she spends her time doing charity runs, water sports, pilates, and spending time with her family.

    More Articles by Dr. Reena Kaloti

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    • Calgary, AB T3H 0V5

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