Tips on Dealing with Dental Emergencies

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Dentist with patient

Have you ever had a dental or orthodontic emergency with one of your children? Knock on wood, fortunately, we haven’t.  But I figure it’s just a matter of time, especially with my older daughter participating in equestrian sports.  So what do you do if there is a dental emergency? According to The Pew Charitable Trust, emergency room visits for dental emergencies have been rising, with it costing the health care system in the country around $1.6 billion per year. Problem is, a good portion of those going to the emergency room for what they see as a dental emergency actually have problems that can be taken care of at home or simply by waiting until the dentist’s office opens.

“Many people are not sure what is a dental emergency and what is something that can wait until morning, so some people will go straight to the emergency room,” explains Dr. Karson Kupiec, a second-generation orthodontist at Kupiec Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry. “If it’s a true emergency, people shouldn’t hesitate to get to the hospital, but they will probably find it comforting to know that there are some common issues they can handle right from home.”

Being able to handle some common dental emergencies without going to the emergency room can help save money, as well as time. Here are a few tips to help deal with some of the more common dental emergencies that people experience, but just remember that we aren’t dentists or doctors, so make sure to check with your own dentist or doc before you self-treat.  

  • Loose bracket or band – The bracket or band on your braces may need to be re-fitted. You may have a situation that requires cutting a wire or sliding a bracket off a wire at night or over the weekend. If you need to cut a wire in case of emergency, you may use fingernail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. 
  • Wire irritation – Sometimes discomfort caused by a wire on your braces can be resolved by moving the wire away from the irritated area with a cotton swab or eraser. If the wire will not move, try covering the end of it with a small piece of cotton or a small amount of wax. If the wire is painful, you can cut it with nail clippers or scissors that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. If you cannot resolve the wire irritation, call your dental office for an appointment.
  • Lost separator – Most patients lose a brace separator during their treatment. Do not worry about losing a separator. Just call the orthodontist to have it replaced. 
  • Discomfort with orthodontic treatment – During the first week, after your braces are in place and routine adjustments are complete, you will likely feel some pain, soreness, or discomfort. You may take acetaminophen or other non-aspirin pain relievers while you adjust to your new braces. A warm wash cloth or heating pad may reduce the soreness in your jaws.
  • Loose appliance – If an expander or banded appliance dislodges, push it back into place and eat soft food until it is repaired. Do not activate the appliance. If it comes out completely, place it in a bag and bring it to your appointment. Expanders and appliances should remain intact for the duration of treatment. If they become loose, it is usually caused by eating hard or sticky foods. Please refrain from eating these types of food. 
  • Broken or knocked-out tooth. Only adult teeth that get knocked out have a chance at being replanted, according to the National Institutes of Health. They recommend getting the knocked-out tooth to the dentist as soon as possible, and only hold the tooth by the crown, which is the part you chew with. To transport it to the dentist, you can keep it in the mouth where it fell out of, put it in a container with saliva or cow’s milk, and apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth to help ease pain.

“When in doubt, speak to a health professional so you can get relief as quickly as possible,” added Dr. Kupiec. “But knowing how to handle some of these common emergencies may help you get through the day or the weekend, with more comfort and confidence.”

Dr. Karson Kupiec has a full-service orthodontic and pediatric dentistry practice, with locations in Rancho Santa Fe and Imperial, Ca. The office offers traditional braces, as well as Invisalign, and dentistry for children, including offering cleanings, sedation, and sealants. For more information, visit the website at:

About Kupiec Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry

Started 17 years ago by Dr. Karson Kupiec, a second-generation orthodontist, Kupiec Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry is a multi-specialty dental office with locations in Rancho Santa Fe and Imperial Valley, Ca. The office offers comprehensive dental care specializing in orthodontics and pediatrics for both children and adults, using the latest technology in the industry, and having a mission of providing superior family care. Kupiec Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry is dedicated to bringing a healthy and beautiful smile to you and your child. For more information, visit the website at:


  1. rika says

    Great tips.. I just went to my orthodontist, dentist and surgeon a few days ago! Unable to work because i had to finish some dental works.

  2. says

    My sister recently broke a tooth and she wasn’t happy until she went to the dentist to have it fixed. I had a dental emergency myself a long time ago. Thanks for the tips in case it happens again. I’d try that dentist if I were in the area.

  3. says

    Dental sufferings are the worst feelings ever, I hate it when it happens to me, it affects my whole body, my whole life, like seriously. Your tips are great and helpful. Two thumbs up for this post.

  4. Rebecca Swenor says

    These are all great tips to dealing with dental emergencies. I didn’t know that adult teeth could even have a chance of being replanted. Thanks for sharing the tips.

  5. says

    I always complain of loose bracket. It is a hassle going back to the dentist everytime. I hate wearing braces. Can’t wait to tale them off.

  6. says

    I have not had a dental emergency yet myself or with my kids. I am sure it will happen eventually, it is helful to know what needs to be handled right away.

  7. says

    Great Tips! Thank goodness I have yet to have a dental emergency with our kiddos but I am sure it will happen soon enough. I used have so many issues with my braces wish my mom had a list like this back in the day

  8. Ana John says

    When you have a dental emergency, it’s easy to visit your dentist or an emergency room as soon as you can.

  9. says

    Knock on wood, we haven’t had any issues with my son’s dental work. It can be worrisome but, it’s always good to just keep an eye out and get them to the dentist immediately if needed.

  10. says

    My oldest almost knocked out his two front baby teeth. We iced it and saw his dentist right away. Thankfully nothing was wrong. But we had an ex-ray to confirm his grown up teeth that hadn’t come in yet were also okay. A friend of mine’s kid busted his mouth really bad on some stairs only to discover it broke his grown up teeth before they even came in! How horrible is that!?

  11. says

    These are great tips that can really help people to save a lot of time and money. I remember having a friend who broke a tooth and she was in horrible pain. I don’t remember what she did but I now know what I will do if I am ever in that situation.

  12. Ashley Bree Perez says

    You have provided great tips to know. Thank you for sharing. I know these will be helpful to my family and myself. It is important to take care of your teeth.

  13. says

    Dental emergencies are never a fun experience. These are great tips for dealing with unexpected dental problems. I am always trying to encourage my kids to practice proper dental hygiene.

  14. says

    Thanks for all the information. Seems like dental emergencies at our house always happen on a Thursday night LOL. Our dentist is closed Fri-Sun. I will remember these for the next time.

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