Know What to do in a Dental Emergency, Ask Your Dentist

By Jenifer Dorsey

Over the weekend, my friend’s son knocked four teeth loose while running around at a school function. She found herself frantically searching for emergency dental care on a Friday night and ultimately ended up taking him to urgent care where they assessed him for head and jaw injuries but really couldn’t do anything for his teeth.

The physician more or less shrugged when she asked if there were any dentists who could treat her son on the weekend. They live in a small town. She ended up driving an hour to seek care and planned to follow up with her regular provider after the weekend. She did everything right given the circumstances, but it was stressful trying to figure things out while her son was in acute pain and emotions were running high.

“I never thought to ask our dentist about what to do if something like this happened,” she confessed. “I will now.”

Knowing who to call and where to go in a dental emergency can save valuable time—time that may determine if a tooth can stay or go. At the next dental appointment for you or your child, ask the dentist what he or she recommends you do should an oral injury occur.

  • Will he or she provide emergency care? If so, what is the best contact number after hours? If your dentist does not provide emergency care, can he or she recommend any specific providers? What is their contact information, and where are they located?
  • Find out how your dental insurance treats emergency care. Check to see which emergency providers accept your insurance.
  • Have contact information and directions in an easy-to-access paper or electronic file so you are not searching during an emergency.
  • Ask your dentist if there are different actions to take depending on the injury. Have a plan in place for what to do, whom to see, and how to treat a knocked out, broken, cracked or loose teeth; a bitten tongue or lip; or damage to the jaw or facial structure.

If there is an injury to the head, face or neck, or significant bleeding occurs, be sure to seek emergency medical care or call 9-1-1 as appropriate.

For more emergency dental tips, visit the American Dental Association or read WebMD’s guide to handling dental emergencies

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