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Dental Emergencies

We never want our patients to be in pain. At Thirty Two & You, we have time set aside every day for your dental emergencies. We’ll evaluate your situation and get you in as soon as possible.

Whether it’s broken or knocked-out teeth, abscessed teeth, a toothache or dental trauma, or any other dental pain, we are here to help. We always welcome emergency and new patients from around the Denison area, and we’re committed to providing the best dental care possible. Call us at 712.263.3252 for more information. In the event of a life-threatening or medical emergency, please call 911.

Broken, Loose or Avulsed (Knocked-Out) Teeth

We never want our patients to be in pain. At Thirty Two & You, we set aside time for your dental emergencies. We’ll evaluate your situation and start treatment as soon as possible.

IMPORTANT NOTE If the trauma to your head or face and it is accompanied by bleeding from the nose or ears, loss of memory or consciousness, dizziness, disorientation, severe head or earache, or if your teeth do not fit together properly after the incident, please seek emergency medical attention immediately. These symptoms are a sign of potentially severe injury to the face, neck and brain, and will require the immediate attention of a medical professional. In addition to emergency room physicians, many hospitals have an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon on staff to help diagnose and treat dental, mouth, and face-related injuries that accompany head trauma.

Broken Tooth

More than just a chip, a tooth is broken when you can see white, dark and red components of the tooth. You may expect to experience moderate to severe pain. If left untreated, broken teeth can result in severe pain, infection, swelling, and a potential medical emergency. Seek emergency dental treatment as soon as possible, but no later than 24 hours. Maintain a liquid or soft diet, and try to keep food and other substances away from the affected area. Follow your dentist’s recommendations for pain management, which may include anti-inflammatories or prescription painkillers until your appointment.

Loose, Displaced or Concussed Tooth

If you sustained a concussion (hit) to your mouth or tooth/teeth, the tooth may have been knocked loose, crooked, or may have sustained damage to the root that you cannot see. You may experience mild to severe pain or tenderness, and some bleeding. In some cases, your tooth may have been pushed into the surrounding jaw, which requires immediate dental emergency treatment within a few hours. Left untreated, any of these issues can result in severe pain, infection, swelling, and a medical emergency. Maintain a soft diet, avoid chewing and try to keep food and other substances away from the affected area. Follow your dentist’s recommendations for pain management, which may include anti-inflammatories or prescription painkillers until your appointment.

Tooth Avulsion (Knocked-Out Tooth)

If your tooth or teeth have been knocked-out completely, there still may be a chance to save your original tooth. Stop any bleeding with consistent pressure. If you are unable to stop the bleeding within 30 minutes using constant and firm pressure, or if you have a bleeding disorder, you may need to seek emergency medical attention. Carefully pick up the tooth by the crown and rinse it gently with saliva, milk or saline. DO NOT touch, rub or scrub the root of the tooth. Place the tooth in a container with the fluid you used to rinse it. Make sure you do not shake or otherwise cause further trauma to the tooth during transport. Seek emergency dental treatment ASAP, ideally within one hour. You may experience moderate to severe pain and swelling. Leaving a knocked-out tooth untreated will result in the permanent loss of the tooth, as well as potential severe pain, swelling, infection and medical emergency.

Each case is different, but your dentist may attempt reimplantation of the tooth and provide you with information, instructions and what to expect. Your dentist will also want to see you with follow up visits to monitor the status of the tooth and ensure it is healing, or provide alternative treatment if necessary.

At-home Help for Knocked-Out Teeth:

  • - If you have a knocked-out tooth, attempt to find the tooth
  • - Place the clean tooth in your mouth between your cheek and gum or under your tongue
  • - Get to the dentist as soon as possible, ideally within one hour. Successful re-implantation is possible only when treatment is performed promptly
  • - Rinse and do not scrub the tooth to remove dirt or debris
  • - Do not attempt to replace the tooth into the socket as this could cause further damage
  • - If it is not possible to store the tooth in the mouth of the injured person, wrap the tooth in a clean cloth or gauze and immerse it in milk or saliva

Abscessed Teeth & Dental Infections

An abscessed tooth is a painful infection at the root of a tooth or between the gum and a tooth. It’s most commonly caused by severe tooth decay. Other causes of tooth abscess are trauma to the tooth, such as when it is broken or chipped, and gingivitis or gum disease.

If bacteria is able to enter the center of the tooth infect the center of the tooth through openings made by dental trauma or gum disease, an infection can result. This infection may also spread from the root of the tooth to the bones supporting the tooth. Left untreated, this can result in severe pain, infection, loss of tooth or teeth, and a medical emergency.

Signs & Symptoms of Tooth Abscess or Infection

Symptoms of an abscessed tooth and possible infection can include:

  • - Severe and continuous toothache, or shooting pain
  • - Fever
  • - Pain when chewing
  • - Sensitivity of the teeth to hot or cold
  • - Bitter taste in the mouth
  • - Foul smell to the breath
  • - Swollen neck glands
  • - General discomfort or ill feeling
  • - Redness and swelling of the gums
  • - Swollen area of the upper or lower jaw
  • - An sore on the side of the gums, or what may look like a pimple or bubble near your tooth. May be open or draining

If the pain goes away and you did not seek treatment, it is possible that the nerve inside the tooth died, which would relieve some of the pain. However, it does not mean that you are well, or that there is not a problem with your tooth.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Your dentist will conduct an emergency exam of the affected area, which can include x-rays to determine the extent of and any potential causes of the issue. Be sure to let your dentist know if anything happened to cause trauma to your tooth recently, or if you had any recent changes in your medical history.

Your dentist may need to drain the abscess and/or prescribe an antibiotic regimen to be able to evaluate the tooth further, or to be able to provide necessary treatment such as a root canal to address the reason for the abscess.

Draining the abscess, starting a root canal and pain medication can all help to relieve the symptoms of many types of dental emergencies. However, the relief of pain does not mean that the cause of the issue has been fixed. If your dentist recommends that you return to complete root canal or receive other dental treatment, we cannot recommend strongly enough that you complete this treatment, to avoid possible painful or costly dental emergencies in the future, or even possible medical emergencies.

Common Pediatric Dental Emergencies

No parent ever wants to see their child in pain. However, pediatric dental emergencies can sometimes occur. Here are some of the most common, as well as steps to follow to resolve the issue and have the best possible outcome.


Toothaches are common in children of all ages and rarely occur without cause. If pain persists, contact Thirty Two & You for next steps. Some common causes of toothache include: tooth fractures, tooth decay, tooth trauma, and wisdom teeth eruption (adolescence).

How you can help:

  • - Cleanse the area using warm water. Do not medicate or warm the affected tooth or adjacent gum area
  • - Check for impacted food and remove it as necessary using a clean finger, dental floss or a toothbrush
  • - Apply a cold compress to the affected area to reduce swelling

Knocked-Out Tooth (Dental Avulsion)

If a tooth has been knocked-out of the child’s mouth completely, it is important to contact Thirty Two & You immediately because time is an important factor in saving and reimplantation of a tooth.  In general, dentists do not attempt to reimplant avulsed primary (baby) teeth, because the reimplantation procedure itself can cause damage to the tooth bud, and thereby damage the emerging permanent tooth.

Your child’s dentist will always try to reimplant an adult tooth that has been knocked-out, unless the trauma has caused irreparable damage.  The reimplantation procedure is almost always more successful if it is performed within one hour of the avulsion.

How you can help:

  • - Recover the tooth.  Do not touch the tooth roots! Handle the crown only
  • - Gently rinse off dirt and debris with water.  Do not scrub or scrape the tooth
  • - For older children, insert the tooth into its original socket using gentle pressure, or encourage the child to place the tooth in the cheek pouch
  • - For younger children, place the tooth in a glass of milk or saliva.  Do not try to put the tooth back in a young child’s mouth, as they may swallow it
  • - Keep the tooth wet during transportation.  Moisture is critically important for reimplantation success.

Dental Intrusion (tooth pushed into jawbone)

Sometimes, dental trauma forces a tooth (or several teeth) upwards into the jawbone.  Oftentimes, the force of the trauma is great enough to injure the tooth’s ligament and fracture its socket.

If you suspect or observe that dental intrusion has occurred, it is important to Thirty Two & You  as soon as possible.  Depending on the nature and depth of the intrusion, your child’s dentist will either wait for the tooth to descend naturally, or perform root canal therapy to preserve the structure of the tooth.

How you can help:

  • - Rinse the child’s mouth with cold water
  • - Place ice packs around affected areas to reduce swelling
  • - Offer a pediatrician-approved pain relief such as Tylenol

Tooth Displacement (Luxation, Extrusion)

Tooth displacement is generally classified as “luxation,” “extrusion,” or “lateral displacement,” depending on how the tooth is angled after the trauma.  A luxated tooth remains in the socket with the pulp intact some of the time.  However, the tooth protrudes at an unnatural angle and the underlying jawbone is oftentimes fractured.

The term “extrusion” refers to a tooth that has become partly removed from its socket.  In young children, primary tooth extrusions tend to heal themselves without medical treatment.  However, dental treatment should be sought for permanent teeth that have been displaced in any manner in order to save the tooth and prevent infection.  It is important to contact the pediatric dentist if displacement is suspected.

How you can help:

  • - Place a cold, moist compress on the affected area
  • - Offer a pediatrician approved pain relief such as Tylenol

Broken Tooth (Crown Fracture)

The crown is the largest, most visible part of the tooth.  In most cases, the crown is the part of the tooth that sustains trauma.

Your child’s dentist at Thirty Two & You  can readily assess the severity of the fracture using dental X-rays, but any change in tooth color (for example, pinkish or yellowish tinges inside the tooth) is an emergency warning sign.  Minor crown fractures may require the application of dental sealant, whereas more severe crown fractures sometimes require pulp treatments.  Jagged enamel can irritate and inflame soft oral tissues, causing infection.

How you can help:

  • - Rinse the child’s mouth with warm water
  • - Place a cold, moist compress on the affected area
  • - Offer a pediatrician approved pain relief such as Tylenol
  • - Pack the tooth with a material that can be near a tooth but will eventually break down, such as a wet paper towel

Root Fracture

A root fracture is caused by direct trauma, and isn’t noticeable to the naked eye.  If a root fracture is suspected, dental x-rays need to be taken.  Depending on the exact positioning of the fracture and the child’s level of discomfort, the tooth can be monitored, treated, or extracted as a worst case scenario.

How you can help:

  • - Place a cold, moist compress on the affected area
  • - Offer a pediatrician approved pain relief such as Tylenol
  • - Contact Thirty Two & You or instructions and next steps

Dental Concussion

A tooth that has not been dislodged from its socket or fractured, but has received a bang or knock, can be described as “concussed.”  Typically occurring in toddlers, dental concussion can cause a tooth to discolor permanently or temporarily.  Unless the tooth turns black or dark (indicating that the tooth is dying and may require root canal therapy), dental concussion does not require emergency treatment.

Dental Emergencies and Pain

Dental pain can be very difficult to live with. Dental pain and emergencies can prevent you from sleeping, concentrating, and even from doing simple daily activities. Many people who have experienced dental pain just want it go go away, and for good reason.

Patients who start treatment or begin a regimen of antibiotics may notice their dental pain is reduced or even gone. This can be a tremendous relief! Sometimes, patients forget to complete their treatment or even choose not to come back because they are no longer in pain.

Pain relief is only one step in the process of treating many dental problems.  Infections and swelling are a common cause of dental pain, but are usually a symptom of a larger issue such as gum disease. In fact, ignoring necessary treatment may result in future dental emergencies which can also include infection, dental pain, and even loss of a tooth or teeth.

If your dentist has made a diagnosis and recommend a course of treatment relating to a dental emergency, we always recommend that you complete the treatment and resume regular check-up visits to help prevent future and more costly issues, and to ensure your smile is as healthy as possible.