How to Handle Common Dental Emergencies Enroute to Our Office

More than 2 million people seek out emergency dental care each year in the United States, which shows just how common these emergencies are. While not every dental issue is an emergency, plenty of relatively common problems — like tooth pain, lost fillings, or damaged crowns — can be considered an emergency, especially if postponing care could lead to more serious problems.

At Harbor Community Health Centers in San Pedro, California, we offer complete dental care for patients of all ages, including emergency care. If you have a dental emergency, knowing what to do before you get to our office can help relieve symptoms and improve your overall outcome. Here’s a quick list of tips to keep in mind.

Call the office right away

Yes, we accept walk-in appointments for dental emergencies, but giving us a call ahead of time (when possible) lets us prepare for your arrival. That means a shorter wait for you and faster treatment to relieve pain, stop bleeding or restore damage. 

Knocked-out teeth

If your adult tooth is knocked out, it’s critical to make sure it stays moist on the way to our office. If it’s possible, try to put the tooth back in its socket, then bite gently on a piece of clean gauze or fabric to hold the tooth in place while you travel to our office. 

If you can’t do that, place the tooth between your cheek and gum or put it in a glass of milk or water. Get to our office as quickly as possible. (After hours, head to the nearest emergency department.)

Cracked or broken tooth

Some tiny cracks are so small you might not notice them. Other cracks are large and painful. Any crack increases the risk of tooth breakage and infection, so getting care is critical. 

If you’ve cracked or broken a tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water to dislodge any debris or food particles. Use an ice pack or cold compress on your cheek to keep swelling down while traveling to our office.

“Stuck” objects

If you have something caught in your teeth, you might be able to gently remove it using dental floss before coming in for a visit. Don’t force the object free, and don’t use ANY other object to try to pry it out. 

Cuts or lacerations

If you cut your lip, tongue, or the inside of your cheek, gently rinse the area and apply a cold pack to your cheek to prevent swelling. If there’s a lot of bleeding, apply clean gauze to the area to help slow or stop the flow. 

Lost or damaged fillings or crowns

If a crown or filling falls out or is otherwise damaged, you can wind up in a lot of pain. Bite down gently on a piece of gauze to protect the area, then come in right away so we can restore the tooth.


Probably one of the most common types of dental emergencies, even minor tooth pain shouldn’t be ignored. You can use some dental floss to remove food particles that might be trapped between the teeth. Then rinse the area with warm water before coming in for treatment. Do not apply aspirin to your tooth or gums.

Any dental emergency requires prompt care to relieve pain and prevent further damage. If you’ve got a dental emergency, give us a call or visit one of our walk-in clinics right away.

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