First Aid for Dental Emergencies



2. What is the problem?


• Toothache
• Broken tooth
• Cold or canker sore

• Loose baby tooth
• Ear infection
• Sinus infection

• Something stuck between the teeth




• Abcess
• Loose stainless steel crown
• Loose orthodontic appliance

• Dental abcess
• Cellulitis
• Canker sore
• Cheek biting

• Broken jaw
• After a baby tooth falls out
• Erupting baby or permanent tooth


• Cut lip or tongue
• Broken tooth
• Knocked out baby tooth

• Knocked out adult tooth
• Tooth knocked out of position


Not all emergencies need to be seen on the same day. Below is a list that may help you decide what is a true emergency and what is not. When in doubt you should always call your dentist.

Toothache, loose baby tooth, something stuck
in the gums, erupting
new tooth

Clean the area around the sore tooth. Rinse the mouth with warm salt water or use dental floss to dislodge trapped food or debris. Apply COLD compresses. Never place aspirin on the gums or on the aching tooth. Take acetaminophen for pain and see the dentist as soon as possible.

Broken tooth,
loose baby tooth

Sometimes a baby tooth falling out can look broken – is the tooth a baby or permanent tooth? Rinse dirt from injured area with warm water. Place cold compresses on the face. Locate and save any broken tooth fragments and see your dentist IMMEDIATELY. If the tooth has a small fracture then take your child to a dentist as soon as possible.

Cold sore or canker sores

Use cold compresses or an ice cube. Avoid hot and spicy foods. Cold sores usually last 10 days. If it persists, then see your dentist.

Ear or sinus infections

Can often present as a toothache on the same side of the face. Feels like pain in an upper or lower tooth. Need to see your physician.

Abcess, mouth odor

A dental abcess often appears like a pimple high above the tooth. It is often draining into the mouth and therefore not usually painful. See your dentist as soon as possible even if the pimple disappears.

Cellulitis, sometimes can
cause limiting opening
of the mouth

A cellulitis occurs when there is no drainage and the swelling can be mild to severe. Cold compresses can help with mild to moderate swelling. If the swelling is moderate your child should be seen by the dentist IMMEDIATELY. If the swelling affects the eye or is located under the lower jaw, your child needs to go to the hospital emergency IMMEDIATELY for intravenous antibiotics.

Loose crowns or
appliances, broken

If a loose stainless steel crown or broken appliance can be removed easily, take it out. If it cannot, cover the sharp or protruding portion with cotton balls, gauze, orthodontic wax, or chewing gum. If a wire is stuck into the gums, cheek or tongue do not remove it. Take your child to the dentist. Most loose or broken appliances do not usually require emergency attention.

Bruising, cuts or

Apply ice to bruised areas. If there is bleeding apply firm but gentle pressure with a clean gauze, cloth or tea bag. If the bleeding cannot be stopped after 15 minutes or it cannot be controlled by simple pressure, take your child IMMEDIATELY to a hospital emergency.

Broken jaw

Immobilize the jaw with a Bandaid, tie, scarf or towel and take your child IMMEDIATELY to the hospital emergency.

Baby tooth knocked out

Do not attempt to replace the baby tooth. Go to your dentist as soon as possible so that other injuries can be ruled out.

Adult tooth knocked out

For the BEST results, replace the tooth into the socket IMMEDIATELY. Do not touch the touch by the root. If dirty gently rinse with running water. If you cannot replace the tooth go to your dentist IMMEDIATELY, store the tooth in the mouth, in milk or in water (in that order). Depending on the condition of the tooth and how long it's been out for, it is not always recommended to replace the tooth (the dentist will discuss the options with you).

Tooth knocked out of position

If the baby tooth was knocked out of position but does not interfere with your child's bite it may be possible to just observe. If the new position of the baby tooth interferes with the bite than it needs to be removed – see the dentist IMMEDIATELY. If the adult tooth is knocked out of position, it needs to be examined for fractures and if possible splinted in the correct position. See the dentist IMMEDIATELY.

Broken tooth

If the tooth has a small fracture then the dentist can see your child as soon as possible. Your child may experience some sensitivity especially to cold. However if the tooth has had a large fracture, your child needs to see the dentist IMMEDIATELY as the nerve may be exposed to the mouth bacteria.

Dr. Gartner is available for dental emergencies. All of our voice mail is forwarded to an email service so you may leave a message on the office telephone number 604-569-3669. You can also reach Dr. Gartner by her mobile number 604-218-9401 or home number 604-422-8040.

Should Dr. Gartner be out of town, her answering service can connect you with another dentist on-call or direct you to BC Children's Hospital.