Are you ready for a dental emergency?

You've heard of disaster emergency kits. You may have practiced fire drills, earthquake drills or tornado drills. But you have ever planned for a dental emergency?

By preparing now, you'll be better able to handle any unexpected dental emergencies. Keep these strategies in mind, and don't forget to gather supplies for your dental emergency kit.

1. Talk to your dentist

During your next appointment, ask your dentist who to contact if a dental emergency strikes. Some dentists provide room in their schedules during the day to accommodate emergency patients. If yours is not available to address an issue when you call, your dental office may be able to refer you to another dentist. And don't forget to keep your dentist's phone number in your wallet.

2. Consider your emergency care options.

If a dental emergency happens at night or over the weekend, you have a couple of options. Your dentist may have an after-hours line to call. Ask for the number during your next appointment and keep it handy.

Depending on your emergency, urgent care or the emergency room may be the best option. Physicians at these facilities can’t provide permanent dental repair, but they can help manage the pain. Your dental benefits won’t apply, so check your medical plan for emergency coverage.

3. Learn home remedies.

Some dental emergencies can be handled at home.

• Toothaches can usually be addressed at home with a pain reliever and a cold compress followed by a visit to your dentist.

• Treat bitten tongues and lips by washing the area gently and applying a cold compress. If the wound doesn’t stop bleeding, go to the nearest urgent care or emergency room.

• If a permanent tooth is knocked out, visit your dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime, take immediate steps to preserve the tooth. Avoid touching the tooth’s root. Gently rinse it with milk or water without scrubbing off any remaining tissue. Try to place it back in the socket and hold it in place. If you can’t, put the tooth in milk or water. The quicker you see a dentist, the greater the chance of saving the tooth.

• If your child’s baby tooth is knocked out, apply pressure to the area to stop the bleeding. Don't place it back in the socket. This can harm the permanent tooth growing beneath it, and it carries the risk of swallowing the tooth.

Create a dental emergency kit

• A small container with a sealable lid

• Your dentist’s contact information

• Gauze and bandages

• A cloth

• Dental wax for kids with braces

• Temporary filling material

• Pain reliever

Store your kit in the car, and carry it with you on vacation.