A dental emergency, whether it happens to you or a loved one, is stressful. You may be wondering if you’ll lose the tooth or if your condition will get worse before you can get to a dentist. Stay calm and take the necessary steps.

We’ll cover how you can handle the most common dental emergencies and how Ora Dental, a dental clinic in Scarborough, Ontario, that offers emergency dental care, can help.


Dental Emergency

General Rules for Dental Emergencies

In a survey of about 2,000 Canadian adults, 15% reported a history of dental emergencies and injuries. Though they vary in nature and severity, there are a few common rules to follow:

  • Rinse with a warm saltwater solution of 1 teaspoon of salt per cup of water. This can encourage healing and partially cleanse the area.
  • Never store teeth or parts of teeth in water. Use milk instead or keep the tooth between your gum and cheek. It must stay moist at all times.
  • Always call a dentist as soon as possible. Seeing a dentist within the hour after a dental emergency may improve your chances of saving the tooth.
  • If there is significant blood loss or trauma, consider a trip to the nearest emergency room.

With those guidelines in mind, let’s talk about how to handle specific dental emergencies.

Knocked-out Teeth

While it can happen to anyone, nearly 50% of children experience a dental emergency including knocked-out teeth at some point in their lives. Experts recommend using mouth guards to prevent it from happening no matter your age.

Retrieve the missing tooth by picking it up by the top, also known as the crown. Because the root is sensitive, it may break. Also, never attempt to scrub a knocked-out tooth — a gentle rinse with water should be enough.

In this dental emergency, there are two ways to preserve the lost tooth. The first is to place it in a cup of milk or on the inside of the cheek. The second and most ideal is to place the tooth back in its socket gently. However, if there’s other trauma or excess bleeding, do not try to force the tooth back in.

In some cases, the dentist may be able to put the tooth back in immediately. They may also use a splint to keep the tooth in position as the gums absorb it.

Broken Teeth

If possible, save the piece of broken tooth in milk. Rinse your mouth with salt water.

If the area is bleeding, apply gauze and pressure for at least 10 minutes. Use ice packs and over-the-counter painkillers to ease discomfort and swelling.

Dentists typically repair broken teeth by filing it down and affixing a crown to it. In extreme cases, they may perform a root canal.

Chipped Teeth

Save the piece that chipped off of your tooth in milk. With chipped teeth, the remaining tooth may be sharp and cut your gums, tongue or cheek. Put gauze over the area to protect the rest of your mouth.

When just the enamel is damaged, a dentist can repair it quickly with a filling. If it’s in a visible part of your mouth, they may fill the area with resin matched to the color of the rest of your teeth.


At the center of every tooth, there’s a bundle of nerve endings called pulp. When it’s exposed due to tooth decay or dental trauma, bacteria or food particles irritate it. This is one of the most common causes of a toothache. However, jaw pain may radiate into your mouth and make a tooth hurt, as well.

If the pain is coming from the tooth itself, rinse with saltwater, brush and floss very gently. If the area is swollen or pain is coming from the jaw, apply an ice pack. If needed, take an over-the-counter painkiller or anti-inflammatory medication.

How a dentist treats a toothache is determined by the cause. If it’s an infection, they may perform a root canal. If it’s because of a cavity, they may use a filling.

In some cases, a bit of stuck food causes an infection. When this happens, a dentist may perform a teeth cleaning and prescribe antibiotics.


An abscess in your gums, teeth or mouth may feel like a severe toothache. However, it’s not necessarily the result of exposed pulp. An abscess forms as the result of a bacterial infection. It can occur just about anywhere around your mouth or jaw.

The pain from an abscess may spread to other parts of your body, so prompt treatment is essential. Rinse with saltwater and take over-the-counter painkillers until you see a dentist.

The dentist may drain the abscess, perform a root canal or pull out the infected tooth. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help clear the infection.

Lost Dental Appliances

If you have a crown, filling or other dental appliance, it can be knocked out or broken just like a regular tooth. Save every piece you can find. If losing a dental appliance leaves a jagged edge along your tooth, cover it with gauze to prevent it from cutting your mouth.

If it might be a bit before you can get to the dentist, many pharmacies have over-the-counter dental cements available. If you have any questions about how to apply it, consult your dentist by phone.

You can also use dental cement to keep an intact crown in place until you see a dentist. However, scrub the crown with toothpaste before attempting.

When the tooth a filling or crown covers is in good health, a dentist may just clean and replace it. However, losing a filling may be a sign that there’s something else wrong. Your dentist will inspect the area and discuss a plan with you.

Emergency Dental Care in Scarborough

After any kind of dental emergency, Ora Dental of Scarborough can help. Our emergency dental care program in Scarborough offers same-day appointments for quick, efficient care. If your emergency grows into a bigger problem, we offer a wide variety of oral surgery solutions, as well.

No matter the case, we take pride in making our Scarborough dental clinic as warm and welcoming as possible. Contact us today for our full range of services.