Advice from Your Emergency Dentist

By definition, emergencies are sudden, urgent, and usually unexpected. While most dental emergencies live up to that standard, some can be the advanced results of a pre-existing condition. For instance, a sudden, severe toothache can indicate a recent traumatic injury, or it can develop because a cavity is exposing the nerves in your tooth. Whenever you or a family member are faced with a dental emergency, call your Austin dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime, Dr. Van Wicklen describes how to protect your damaged tooth and reduce discomfort until you reach our office.

Before You Call

A chipped or cracked tooth may or may not hurt, depending on how deep the fracture penetrates your tooth structure. If you crack or break your tooth biting down on something hard, the tooth may have already been compromised by an existing chip or fracture. In most instances, however, you’ll know that you damaged a tooth as soon as it occurs, especially if the tooth is broken or knocked out of its socket.

  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water, especially around the damaged tooth, to wash away dirt and debris. If the tooth is broken or knocked out, collect the tooth or its pieces and carefully rinse them, as well.
  • After rinsing your tooth and mouth, try placing the knocked-out tooth back in its socket. If it doesn’t fit, don’t force it, but place it in a small container of milk and bring it with you to your emergency visit.
  • If the tooth or empty socket bleeds, apply pressure with clean, moist gauze until the bleeding stops. You can gently bite down on the gauze to hold it in place as long as you’re careful not to bite too forcefully.
  • An ice pack and/or over-the-counter pain medication can offer temporary relief from discomfort, though you should call our office immediately to explain the situation and schedule an emergency visit, if necessary.
  • If you lose a previously-placed dental crown during your emergency, bring it with you to your appointment, even if it’s broken in pieces. Rinse your mouth thoroughly, and refrain from eating and drinking unless absolutely necessary.


Since 1985, Dr. Steven Van Wicklen has been providing expert general, cosmetic, restorative, and emergency dentistry services to patients and families in Austin, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Bastrop, Bee Cave, Cedar Park, and all surrounding communities. To schedule an emergency dental visit, call our office immediately at (512) 448-3131.