If you have a dental emergency, you need to see a dentist as soon as possible. However, if you’re unable to see a dentist immediately, there are some steps you can take at home to temporarily cope with a dental emergency until you get to the dentist.

Sometimes a painful tooth is caused by cavities that reach the nerves and blood vessels inside the tooth. The result can be searing pain to warm or cold sensations, pain while biting down and ultimately pain no matter what you do. The pain could also be the result of a root canal gone wrong.

The best way to manage this is to avoid drinking or eating anything hot, cold, or sweet, and to take over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nuprin), Aleve, or Tylenol. The more a tooth is hurting you before you go to the dentist, the more difficult it is for the dentist to treat the tooth.

Broken teeth are another common dental emergency. Teeth can break when eating hard foods or ice, during an accident and because a cavity has weakened the tooth. Avoid eating or drinking on the side of the broken tooth, take pain relievers (described above) and save the part of the tooth that has broken off.

If there is a sharp edge of the tooth remaining and is irritating your mouth, put a piece of wax or a small piece of gum over it. Some drug stores even sell over-the-counter temporary sealants (Temparin and Dentemp OS) that can be placed on the broken tooth. Do-it-yourself sealants are usually only good for 48 hours.

If a filling falls out, keep the lost piece to show your dentist. Keep your tooth clean by brushing gently with toothpaste and lukewarm water. You can also use temporary sealants on the tooth (as mentioned above).

If you lose a crown or a cap, which covers the portion of a tooth that is above the gum line, you can try and put it back in. You can mix your own paste (Vaseline and cornstarch) to hold it. Put some paste on the crown, put the crown on your tooth and bite down gently. Wipe off any of the extra paste that seeps out.

If you have gum pain, then try over-the-counter pain-relieving gels (Anbesol and Orajel) to get some temporary relief. You can also try ibuprofen and other over-the-counter drugs that relieve swelling and inflammation. Even if this helps, you must see a dentist because you may have an infection that requires antibiotics.

If you are in a rural part of the country when your emergency happens, try going to the nearest hospital, which may have a dental specialist on staff or one that can be called.

If you believe you have a dental emergency, please call (949) 760-0363 to make an emergency appointment with one of our experienced dentists. We will get you in quickly and treat your tooth ASAP. Don’t suffer in pain needlessly; call today.