Ask Southcenter Dental: What should I do in case of an emergency this summer?

Our staff at Southcenter Dental knows all too well that summer is a season many patients experience dental emergencies. From a chipped tooth to a lost filling while on vacation, summer brings with it a greater chance of people damaging their teeth when they're out and about. In many cases, there are ways you can handle these occurrences at home before you follow up with a visit with Drs. Baruffi or Neilson. In some instances a few minutes of attention will be all you need to effectively address a dental emergency. Here are some common situations patients experience.


Rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water and floss to remove any food particles that may be stuck between teeth. A pain reliever such as aspirin may be taken to dull the pain. If your toothache is severe, or lasts longer than one day, make an appointment to see us as soon as possible.

Chipped or Broken Teeth

Save any pieces you can. Use a cold compress on the outside of your mouth to relieve pain and swelling, and apply gauze to the area for at least ten minutes if there is bleeding. Visit our office as soon as you can.

Dislodged Tooth

Visit our office immediately if your tooth is partially dislodged or knocked out. If the tooth is knocked out, retrieve it and rinse it off. Do not scrub the tooth and try to avoid handling the root (the part that is normally under your gums); instead, hold it by the crown (the part you can normally see in your mouth). If you can, reinsert the tooth in its socket, being careful to make sure it is facing the right way. Do not force a tooth back into place. If you can’t reinsert the tooth, save it in a glass of milk or a solution of water with a pinch of salt. Apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth and take an over-the-counter pain reliever to dull the pain.

Possible Broken Jaw

If you sustain an injury to your jawbone and think it may be broken, apply an ice pack to the area quickly to minimize swelling and seek attention at a hospital right away. Once you have been treated for a broken jaw, make an appointment with us to assess and treat any damage that may have been done to your teeth.

Objects Stuck in Teeth

Try flossing to carefully and gently remove the object. Never use a sharp or hard item to remove objects in your teeth; you risk injuring your gums and scratching your teeth. If you are unable to remove the object, visit our office.

Lost Filling

Sugarless gum and over-the-counter dental cement can work as temporary fillings, but be sure to make an appointment with us as soon as you can to replace a filling.

Lost Crown

If you cannot make it in to see us right away, apply a little clove oil to the sensitive area of the tooth with a cotton swab. Then slip the crown back on the tooth using dental cement or denture adhesive to hold it in place. Don’t use any kind of glue on your teeth. Be sure to make an appointment to see us to properly fix the crown as soon as possible.


An abscess is a painful pimple-like swelling that usually occurs on your gums near the root of a tooth. Abscesses are caused by infection and can cause serious oral health problems, so come see us right away. In the meantime, try to ease the pain by rinsing your mouth with a saltwater solution of ½ teaspoon salt to 8 ounces of water.

Mouth Injuries

Injuries to the soft-tissue of the mouth such as the cheeks, tongue, and gums often result in bleeding. To stop the bleeding first rinse your mouth with a mild salt water solution. Then use a moistened piece of gauze to apply pressure to the site for 15-20 minutes. Holding a cold compress to the outside of the affected area will help ease pain and control bleeding and swelling. If the bleeding persists see us immediately or visit a hospital emergency room. Continue to apply gauze until you are treated.

Ignoring any dental problem can quickly increase the risk of permanent damage and the need for more treatment in the future. If you have any concerns, and especially if you experience a persistent dental issue, please contact us so we can assist you and prevent an emergency.

Didn't see a question you'd like an answer to? Please call us at 206.575.1551 or ask on our Facebook page!

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