Memorial Day on the lake or at the beach is supposed to be about relaxing, not panicking; but dental emergencies can crop up anywhere. Here are a few of the most common emergencies and what to do until you can get to a dentist.

1) Toothache 
– first, brush and floss gently, then rinse with warm water. It’s possible that a food particle has gotten wedged somewhere and is causing discomfort. Still sore? Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Try to stick to fairly soft foods and get to a dentist to have the tooth examined as soon as you can.

2) Broken Tooth – that front flip off the boat deck may have seemed like a good idea… right until your face hit the boat and not the water. If there’s any bleeding, gauze and a bit of light pressure should stop it within 10 minutes. If not, try a moist tea bag. If the injury is painful, over-the-counter pain relievers may help make you more comfortable, as will avoiding hard foods. If jagged edges of your tooth are poking into your cheeks or gums, put dental wax over the sharp parts. The same advice applies for a broken filling or crown. If possible save the crown or filling to bring to the dentist. If you have denture adhesive on hand, you can use that to temporarily reattach the crown until you make it to your appointment.

3) Knocked-Out Tooth – First, find the missing tooth. Pick it up by the crown (the part that shows in the mouth) and avoid touching the root. Rinse the tooth gently in cool water; don’t scrub or use soap. If the tooth is permanent, immediately try to replace it in the socket and hold it there using clean gauze or a washcloth. Don’t put a baby tooth back in the socket — it can damage the developing permanent tooth below. If replacing the tooth in the socket isn’t an option, place it in a clean container with milk, saline or cool water. As a last resort hold the tooth under your tongue to keep it moist. Get to a dentist’s office immediately. Call the emergency number if it’s after hours. The faster you act — less than 30 minutes out of the mouth is optimal — the better your chances of saving the tooth.

4) Oral Injury and Bleeding – If you’ve injured your mouth and there is bleeding, rinse gently to find the blood’s source. Then put pressure on that area or use the gauze/tea bag techniques mentioned for broken teeth, which should bring bleeding to a halt within 10 to 15 minutes. If you can’t get the bleeding to stop, call a dentist. Head to the emergency room if a dentist is unavailable. Even if the bleeding stops, consider visiting a dentist to ensure you don’t need stitches or haven’t injured a tooth. Whatever your plans are for Memorial Day, have fun, but be prepared!