Woman with tooth and jaw pain

Facing a dental emergency can be stressful, but staying calm and following some immediate steps can minimize pain and potential damage until you can see a dentist. Here’s a guide on what to do during various dental emergencies while you wait for professional treatment:


A toothache is a sharp or dull pain in the tooth, often caused by cavities, infections, or gum disease. It can result from poor dental hygiene or injury to the mouth. If you notice a sharp or throbbing persistent pain, use these tips while waiting for your dentist:

  • Rinse your mouth with a warm saline solution after eating and brushing
  • Gently floss to remove any trapped debris
  • Do not place aspirin or other painkillers directly on the gums, as it can burn the soft tissue
  • Place an ice pack or cold compress outside the mouth for 15-minute intervals if there’s swelling

Chipped or Broken Tooth

A chipped or broken tooth can result from biting hard objects, facial trauma, or deep decay. You need immediate dental treatment because it exposes the sensitive inner layers of your tooth, risking infection or further damage. Take the following steps to manage any discomfort and prevent infection:

  • Rinse your mouth with warm water
  • Collect any broken pieces and store them in milk or saline solution
  • Place a cold compress or ice pack on your face to minimize swelling
  • Do not chew on the affected side
  • Seal the chip or break with dental wax or sugar-free gum

Knocked-Out Tooth

Teeth correctly set back in the socket within 15 minutes have a 98% chance of re-implanting. See a dentist as soon as possible and take the following actions to protect your tooth:

  • Pick up the tooth by the crown (the part you see), not the root
  • Rinse the tooth gently under clean, running water if it’s dirty, but do not scrub
  • Do not remove any tissue attached to the tooth
  • Try to place the tooth back in its socket without forcing it or store it in milk

Lost Filling or Crown

Large and old fillings, or restorations with decaying dental tissue underneath, are vulnerable to breakage. To save the tooth, visit a dentist to replace the crown or filling as soon as possible. Use the following tips until you can see your dentist:

  • Keep the crown or filling if you find it
  • For a dislodged crown, a dab of toothpaste or dental adhesive can temporarily keep it in place
  • Avoid eating sticky or hard foods

Abscess or Swelling

A dental abscess is a painful, pus-filled infection often stemming from untreated cavities or gum disease. It’s an emergency because the infection can spread to the lungs or brain, leading to severe health complications. Abscesses can also be extremely painful. Manage discomfort and reduce the severity of the infection by:

  • Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water multiple times a day
  • Applying an ice pack to the affected side of your face intermittently for 15 minutes on and off
  • Avoiding chewing on the side of your mouth where the abscess is located

Get the Urgent Care You Need at Valley Dental Care

Dental emergencies require swift action and immediate professional attention. While at-home remedies can provide temporary relief, consulting with a dentist to address the underlying issue and prevent recurrence is important.

For residents in and around Plainfield, Valley Dental Care of Plainfield offers exceptional emergency dental services to alleviate your pain and restore your smile. In case of a dental emergency, call us at (815) 436-6800.

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