Emergency Dental Care – First Aid

We all do our best to avoid accidents; but, mishaps do happen. In the event of an after-hours emergency please contact 703-618-5204 to alert one of our on-call doctors. Please be ready to give a brief description of the problem as well as your medical history and insurance information. If you are a first time patient, you will be expected to pay for services at the time they are rendered with a receipt available on the next business day.


Thoroughly, but gently, brush, floss and rinse the area with warm salt water to remove any trapped food or debris from around the tooth. Do take an over the counter pain medicine as prescribed on the bottle but do not place an aspirin on the gum as this can cause a chemical burn of the tissue causing additional discomfort. If your pain does not subside, please call us. If the area is swollen, a cold compress may reduce the swelling and discomfort but the doctor should be notified either way.

Debris Caught Between The Teeth

Occasionally, a foreign object (floss, food, popcorn kernel, etc.) may become lodged between your teeth. If it remains too long, the area will become sore and may even lead to gum problems. Start by using a new piece of floss the way you were taught in the office. The next trick is to tie a small knot in the floss and gently insert the floss between the teeth by sliding it back and forth between the tight spot. Once the floss “pops” through the tight spot, pull the floss and knot towards the cheek. You may have to repeat this several times but the knot will often catch the object. If you are unable to get the floss between your teeth due to the foreign object, try this trick. Your teeth are attached to the jaw bone by shock absorbing ligaments, take advantage of this cushion by placing a toothpick between your teeth below the foreign object. Press firmly and wait a minute or two until the pressure has decreased and then press again. Once the pressure decreases a second time, remove the toothpick and quickly try the knot in floss technique. Whether or not you are successful, it is advised to have the area evaluated by the dentist to ensure all debris has been removed and no further harm will occur.


Apply firm, steady pressure to the area with a damp, clean cloth or piece of gauze. Biting on a moistened tea bag placed directly over an extraction site is very effective after a tooth has been surgically removed. If the bleeding has not stopped, or significantly slowed, after 15 minutes, contact the doctor or proceed directly to the emergency room.

Chipped Tooth

If you are not immediately in pain, you may be able to schedule a future appointment to evaluate the area and restore/repair the damaged tooth. If the tooth is sharp or rough, you may be able to cover the area with wax or carefully use an emery board to smooth the damaged portion. This will make your tongue and/or your cheek much more comfortable. The traumatic injury has already damaged the tooth; your goal is to minimize any further damage to your tooth or soft tissues until it can be properly evaluated; please do not chew on that side.

If you do experience persistent pain or sensitivity in the damaged tooth, wax may help to insulate the broken area but call the doctor as soon as possible for assistance.

Adult Tooth Knocked Out

Time is of the essence. Quickly find the tooth and rinse it off in cold water being careful not to touch the root. The root is the portion of the tooth that is supposed to be in the gum and bone that normally you can not see. The root is covered by a thin, delicate layer of cells that we must preserve. Do not use soap, scrub or “play with” the tooth. Now that it is clean, try to place it back in it’s home; the socket. If the tooth does not seem to fit, check to make sure it is not going in backwards.

Once in place, gently bite on a piece of gauze or a clean cloth-and call us! Every 30 minutes the tooth is out the prognosis drops. If it is impossible to return the tooth to it’s socket, place it in a cup of cold milk or place it in the victim’s mouth. If the mouth seems unwise or unsafe, do not follow that recommendation. We can do amazing things with the benefit of dental implants.

We will do everything possible to save your tooth; but you have suffered a very traumatic injury. Even if everything is done quickly and correctly, the tooth may not survive. Some teeth die quickly while others last several years. Either way, we will do our best to keep you out of pain and restore your smile.

Baby Tooth Knocked Out

Typically, baby teeth are not returned to their socket. Do try to find the tooth and reassure your child. Call us. Your child will need to be evaluated to assess any other damage that may have occurred.

Mouth Sores

Canker sores (apthous ulcers) typically occur under the tongue, on the gums or the cheek. They can be caused by stress, trauma or acidic (oranges, tomatoes, etc.) foods. They range in size from a pin-head up to one-half inch in diameter and may last up to ten days. A good over the counter medication that will decrease the discomfort and may speed healing when applied directly to the sore is Kanka. For more frequent sufferers we can prescribe Kenalog in Orabase.

Fever blisters or cold sores (caused by the Herpes Simplex virus) typically appear on the lip. They can be triggered by illness, stress, pregnancy or prolonged exposure to the sun or cold. These sores are highly contagious when the blister breaks and begins to “weep”. Contact with these open blisters can infect others and even infect other parts of your own body. Ointments with vitamin E or aloe vera or the prescription Denavir will make the sore more comfortable. An over the counter medication, Abreva, has been shown to speed healing and improve comfort. This medication can be taken at the first sign of an outbreak, even before it is visible to the naked eye.

These are two of the most common mouth sores, but many others do exist. Contact us for more information.

Please use the following information as a guideline. This information is not designed to supersede, or take the place of, a proper examination by a qualified health care provider. Please contact our office to schedule an appointment.

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