Life is full of unexpected twists, and when it comes to our oral health, surprises aren’t always pleasant. Imagine a sudden toothache or a knocked-out tooth throwing a curveball your way. That’s where knowing the ropes of emergency dental care becomes important.  

We’re going over the essentials of handling dental emergencies and why you should always have a dentist open today in Greenville, NC on speed dial – because being prepared for life’s surprises includes knowing how to safeguard your smile when the unexpected happens.  


Trauma-related dental emergencies encompass situations where the teeth or surrounding structures are affected due to external force or injury. These emergencies can be classified into three main types: knocked-out teeth, fractured or broken teeth, and injuries to soft tissues such as the lips, tongue, or cheeks.

Knocked-out Teeth

A knocked-out tooth, also known as an avulsed tooth, occurs when a tooth is completely displaced from its socket. This usually happens due to a severe impact or accident. The primary causes include sports injuries, falls, or car accidents. Immediate response to a knocked-out tooth is essential for the possibility of successful re-implantation.

What to Do

  • Handle with Care: Hold the tooth by the crown (the visible part), avoiding contact with the root.
  • Rinse Gently: If the tooth is dirty, rinse it gently with water. However, do not scrub or use any cleaning agents.
  • Reposition if Possible: Attempt to place the tooth back into its socket. If successful, gently bite down on a clean cloth to keep it in place.
  • Storage: If repositioning is not possible, store the tooth in a container of milk or saliva. Avoid storing it in water as it may damage the tooth’s cells.
  • Seek Immediate Dental Attention: Time is critical. Get to the dentist as quickly as possible, ideally within 30 minutes, for the best chance of saving the tooth.

Fractured or Broken Teeth

Fractured or broken teeth are common dental emergencies resulting from various factors, including trauma, biting on hard objects, or untreated cavities. The severity of the fracture can range from a minor chip to a more significant break.

What to Do

  • Rinse Mouth: Use warm water to rinse the mouth, ensuring it’s clean.
  • Cold Compress: Apply a cold compress or ice pack on the affected area to reduce swelling.
  • Save Broken Pieces: If there are fragments of the tooth, save them. They might be useful for potential restoration.
  • Visit the Dentist Promptly: Seek dental attention as soon as possible. The dentist will assess the extent of the fracture and recommend appropriate treatment, which may include bonding, veneers, or dental crowns.

Injuries to Soft Tissues (Lips, Tongue, Cheeks)

Injuries to the soft tissues of the mouth, such as the lips, tongue, or cheeks, can occur during accidents or trauma. These injuries can range from minor cuts to more significant tears or damage.

What to Do

  • Clean Gently: Use warm water to clean the injured area gently.
  • Cold Compress: Apply a cold compress to the affected area to reduce swelling.
  • Gentle Pressure for Bleeding: If there is bleeding, apply gentle pressure with a clean cloth to control it.
  • Pain Relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage pain.
  • Seek Dental Attention: If the injury is severe or if there are concerns about the extent of the damage, it is advisable to seek prompt dental care.


Infection-related dental emergencies involve situations where bacterial infections lead to complications in the oral cavity, causing severe pain and potential systemic issues. The two primary infection-related emergencies are an abscessed tooth and a severe toothache.

Abscessed Tooth

An abscessed tooth results from a bacterial infection, often stemming from untreated dental decay, a cracked tooth, or gum disease. The infection leads to the formation of a pus-filled pocket, causing intense pain and swelling.

What to Do

  • Rinse with Saltwater: Gently rinse your mouth with a mild saltwater solution to help cleanse the affected area. 
  • Cold Compress: Apply a cold compress to the external cheek to alleviate pain and reduce swelling. 
  • Over-the-counter Pain Relievers: Take over-the-counter pain medications as directed to manage pain. 
  • Seek Dental Attention Promptly: It is crucial to see a dentist as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment. The dentist may drain the abscess, prescribe antibiotics, or recommend other interventions depending on the severity.

Severe Toothache

A severe toothache is characterized by intense pain around a tooth, often indicating an underlying issue such as dental decay, infection, or injury.

What to Do

  • Rinse with Warm Water: Gently rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area.
  • Floss Gently: Carefully use dental floss to remove any debris or food particles that might be contributing to the pain.
  • Over-the-counter Pain Relievers: Take over-the-counter pain medications to help manage the pain.
  • Visit the Dentist Soon: Schedule an appointment with your dentist at your earliest convenience. Delaying treatment can exacerbate the underlying issue, leading to more significant problems.


Other dental emergencies encompass situations that may not directly involve trauma or infection but require prompt attention to prevent further complications. The two common scenarios are lost fillings or crowns and objects stuck between teeth.

Lost Fillings or Crowns

A lost filling or crown can expose the underlying tooth structure, leading to sensitivity, discomfort, and potential damage. Fillings and crowns may become dislodged due to wear and tear, decay, or trauma.

What to Do:

  • Keep the Area Clean: Maintain good oral hygiene by gently cleaning the exposed tooth with a toothbrush.
  • Dental Cement or Sugar-free Gum: If available, use dental cement or sugar-free gum to cover the exposed area temporarily. This helps protect the tooth and prevent sensitivity.
  • Avoid Chewing on That Side: Minimize chewing on the affected side to prevent further damage.
  • Seek Dental Attention Promptly: Contact your dentist and schedule an appointment to have the filling or crown replaced. Delaying treatment may lead to additional complications, such as decay or further damage to the tooth.

Objects Stuck Between Teeth

Foreign objects lodged between teeth can cause discomfort, pain, and potential damage to the gums or teeth. Common items include pieces of food, dental floss, or other objects.

What to Do:

  • Gently Try to Remove with Dental Floss: Carefully use dental floss to gently remove the object. Be cautious not to cause injury to the gums.
  • Avoid Sharp Objects: Refrain from using sharp objects or tools to remove the stuck item, as this can lead to injury or damage.
  • If Unsuccessful, Seek Dental Attention: If attempts to remove the object are unsuccessful, or if there is persistent discomfort, it is advisable to seek professional dental care. Dentists have specialized tools to safely and effectively address such situations.


Time-sensitive Interventions

Dental emergencies often require time-sensitive interventions for the best possible outcome. Whether it’s a knocked-out tooth, a severe toothache, or another issue, the sooner you seek professional help, the better the chances of successful treatment.


Dental emergencies are often accompanied by severe pain. Dentists can provide appropriate pain relief measures and address the underlying cause to alleviate discomfort effectively.

Prevention of Complications  

Timely intervention can prevent complications from arising. For instance, prompt treatment of an abscessed tooth can prevent the infection from spreading to other areas of the body.  


When calling a dentist for an emergency appointment, providing specific information helps the dental office prepare for your visit and address your needs promptly. Be ready to share the following details:

  • Nature of the Emergency: Clearly describe the nature of the dental emergency. Whether it’s a knocked-out tooth, severe pain, or another issue, conveying the details helps the dentist prepare for the necessary procedures.
  • Any Visible Damage: If applicable, mention any visible damage, such as a fractured tooth or lost filling. This information aids the dentist in planning the appropriate treatment.
  • Pain Level: Communicate the severity of pain you are experiencing. This information guides the dentist in determining the urgency of the situation and prescribing suitable pain relief.
  • Previous Dental History: Inform the dentist of any relevant previous dental history, ongoing treatments, or medications you are taking. This background information is vital for a comprehensive assessment.


  • Dental Insurance Provider: Contact your dental insurance provider to inquire about emergency dental services covered under your plan. They can provide a list of in-network dentists.  
  • Online Directories: Utilize online directories or search engines to find emergency dental services in your area. Many dental practices provide emergency appointments or have on-call services.
  • Hospital Emergency Rooms: In cases of severe trauma or uncontrollable bleeding, consider visiting the emergency room at your local hospital. They can provide initial stabilization before dental follow-up.

Remember, when experiencing a dental emergency, time is of the essence. Act promptly, provide accurate information when seeking an emergency appointment, and explore available resources to find local emergency dental services for timely and effective care.


If you’re facing a dental emergency you can trust Michels & Gauquie DDS PA for immediate and expert care. Our experienced professionals are here to provide swift and compassionate service in our state-of-the-art facilities. Don’t wait – call us now to schedule your emergency appointment. Your oral health is our priority, and we’re ready to help you restore your smile.