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How to Handle Common Dental Emergencies

woman holding cold compress to her face

Dental emergencies come in two flavors: sudden injury and infections that develop over time. In either case, your emergency dentist in Colorado Springs is ready to treat your problem. In the meantime, here are a few basic tips to help deal with common dental emergencies:


First, rinse your mouth out with salt water and floss around the area to dislodge any food particles that may be causing your pain. If that’s not the case, you can take an over-the-counter pain medication or apply a cold compress until you reach our office. Your toothache may be the result of an infection deep within the tooth. In that case, root canal therapy might be necessary.

Chipped/Broken Tooth

To reduce any swelling or pain, apply a cold compress to the side of your face for 10 minutes at a time. Don’t chew with the affected tooth. If it has a sharp edge that may damage your soft tissue, place a piece of dental wax or sugarless gum over it. We may be able to fix it with a dental crown, but in serious cases, the tooth might have to be extracted.

Knocked-Out Tooth

Gently rinse the tooth and try to put it back in the socket, holding it in place by slowly biting down onto a piece of gauze. If that’s not possible, store the tooth in your cheek pocket or in a container of milk. The tooth MUST stay moist in order for it to be viable. The most important thing is to contact our office as soon as possible, as a knocked-out tooth only has about an hour where it can be successfully replaced.

Lost Filling/Crown

Find the restoration, rinse off any debris, and try to place it back on the tooth using a little bit of toothpaste or sugar-free gum. Avoid chewing with the tooth until we heal it, as it can be more vulnerable to decay. If the tooth is sensitive, take an OTC pain medication.

How to Prevent Dental Emergencies

man looking at his mouth in mirror

Follow these steps to drastically reduce your chances of having a dental emergency:

  • Wear a mouthguard every time you play sports.
  • Avoid chewing hard items like ice, pencils, fingernails, and hard candies.
  • Don’t open packages with your teeth.
  • Brush and floss your teeth every day to avoid painful cavities.
  • Attend regular checkups and cleanings with us so we can spot and treat problem areas before they result in an emergency.

The Cost of Treating Dental Emergencies

dentist using intraoral camera

Because dental emergencies come in all shapes and sizes, there is no fixed price of treatment. Some patients only require a small filling or a round of antibiotics, while others might need one or more teeth removed and replaced. Before we go through with any treatment, we’ll make sure to go over the cost with you. Our helpful team will be more than happy to file claims on your behalf to make the whole process easier.

Dental Emergency FAQs

A first-aid kit used by an emergency dentist in Colorado Springs

If you or a loved one ever has a dental emergency, you can count on our team at Exceptional Smiles to get you out of pain fast while also preserving your oral health. To ensure that you’re prepared for the unexpected, we’ve answered several frequently asked questions below. But if there’s anything else you’d like to know or you simply need an emergency dentist in Colorado Springs, get in touch anytime. We’re always just a phone call away!

Am I Having a True Dental Emergency? 

In a dental emergency, your first step is to call us, even if you aren’t sure if you need immediate care or not. We’ll either schedule the first available appointment or (if it’s not urgent) advise you how to handle the situation over the phone. Here are some common signs that you need to be treated right away:

  • Loose, broken, or knocked-out teeth
  • Severe pain
  • Your lip or cheek is swollen, or you have a pimple-like bump on your gums. These are signs of a serious infection or abscess.
  • Heavy bleeding

Can I Take Pain Medication at Home For My Dental Emergency?

Absolutely. Over-the-counter pain reliever can be a great way to manage any discomfort until your visit. However, keep in mind that NSAIDs like Ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen thin your blood and can interfere with clotting, so if you’re having heavy bleeding or currently take a prescription blood-thinner like Warfarin, take Tylenol (acetaminophen) instead.

Should I Go To a Hospital or Urgent Care Center?

With advanced training, technology and experience, our team of dentists can handle the vast majority of dental emergencies. And, in fact, we’re often better-equipped to protect your oral health. With that said, there are some situations that require medical care first, including:

  • A broken or dislocated jaw
  • Severe cuts or lacerations that may require stitches
  • If you can’t see us within an hour for a knocked-out tooth, seek out medical care instead (the tooth has the best chance of being saved in that timeframe).
  • If you have signs of an infection or abscess (facial swelling, fever, etc.) and can’t see us for treatment within a few hours.

In a Dental Emergency, Will I Need an Extraction?

It depends on the extent of damage to your tooth. But since our goal is to preserve your natural teeth whenever possible, extractions are typically a last resort. In cases where an extraction is necessary, we’ll also discuss replacement options such as a dental implant or bridge at your visit.