News Releases

Avoid common dental emergencies during the upcoming holiday season

Dec 6, 2022

       WEST ALLIS, Wis. – During the busy holiday season, an unplanned dental visit is likely not on your to-do list. However, it is not uncommon for patients to experience a dental emergency during this time of year.

       “From a chipped tooth to a tooth ache, managing an emergency can be challenging when some dental offices might have reduced office hours or office closures,” said Dr. Jay Banez, a general dentist in Whitewater and Delavan. “This may limit the availability to be evaluated and treated. Though being seen in a dental office is a top priority, some of these emergencies can be managed at home if your dental provider cannot treat you immediately.”

  The Wisconsin Dental Association is giving tips on how to avoid common dental emergencies:

  • Remember, teeth aren’t tools! You should never use your teeth to open or cut things, including tags on new clothing items, gift wrapping, food wrappers, bottle caps and more. Doing this can risk a cracked or chipped tooth. Always use scissors or the proper tool for the job.
  • Be careful when indulging in holiday treats. Festive treats such as caramel popcorn, hard candies like peppermints and even ice in seasonal beverages may pose risks to your teeth. Take caution, as chewing these hard foods can crack a tooth.
  • Wear a mouthguard. If you are participating in a recreational activity or contact sport, wearing a mouthguard can protect your teeth from the risks of falling or running into another person or object. In addition, holiday stress may cause clenching and grinding of teeth at night, and wearing a mouthguard can help prevent resulting tooth and jaw pain. If you don’t have a mouthguard for sports or sleep, talk with your dentist to learn about your options.
  • Maintain a good oral hygiene routine. During the excitement and fun of the holidays, make sure you are keeping up with your regular oral hygiene routine. Don’t skip brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day or cleaning between teeth with floss at least once a day. Use a fluoride mouth rinse to further protect your teeth from the extra sugar we eat during this time of year.

     Even if we are careful, accidents do happen. If a dental emergency happens during your holiday gathering, you should always seek care from a dentist as soon as possible. If your dental office is not open due to holiday hours, some may still have an emergency after-hours line. Most dental emergencies can be managed at home until seen in a dental office.

     If your dental emergency affects your ability to breathe or swallow, visit an Urgent Care clinic near you right away. Urgent care clinics can manage these types of dental emergencies until your dentist can see you.

     Until you seek care, take the following steps:

  • For a chipped or cracked tooth, immediately rinse the mouth with warm water to clean the area. Put a cold compress on the face if you develop any swelling. Make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
  • For throbby, achy tooth pain, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or any NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) can be taken to reduce pain. Refrain from eating sticky, crunchy, or chewy foods. Call your dentist to be evaluated.
  • For facial swelling, put a cold compress on the area of swelling, take an over-the-counter NSAID such as ibuprofen and call your dentist right away.
  • For a knocked-out permanent adult tooth, keep the tooth moist at all times. If you can, try placing the tooth back in the socket without touching the root. If that’s not possible, place it in between your cheek and gums, in milk, or use a tooth preservation product that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Try to see your dentist right away.
  • For a knocked-out baby tooth, find the tooth, keep it moist, and visit your dentist when you can with the tooth. Your dentist can see whether the entire tooth or just part of the tooth came out, and check to make sure all pieces of the tooth are accounted for.
  • If you have an object stuck in your mouth or teeth, try to gently remove it with floss. Do not try to remove it with a sharp or pointed instrument. If you cannot safely remove it, see your dentist to avoid further pain or infection.
  • If you bite your tongue or lip, clean the area gently with water and apply a cold compress. See your dentist or go to the emergency room if there is excessive bleeding, the bleeding won’t stop or you are in a lot of pain.
  • On vacation and have a dental emergency? Call your dentist to see if the problem is okay to wait until you are home, or if you need to seek dental care at your vacation destination. If needed, use the ADA Find-A-Dentist tool to locate a dentist near your vacation spot.
      For more information about dental emergencies, finding a dentist and tips on your oral health, visit and

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