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7 Tips to Cope in a Dental Emergency

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

Dealing with a dental emergency is a team effort, involving the dentist, their support team and also the patient. There are steps you can take yourself which will help us address the issue as quickly as we can. This blog goes into some helpful tips for you to refer to if you’re experiencing a dental emergency. While a stressful situation, we can get through it together, treat any pain and fix any damage.

1. Identify the problem

When you contact us about an emergency, the first thing we will ask for you to explain the problem. This might not be straightforward as tooth pain can have many different causes. We will need to know as much about the issue before we see you so we can rule out as much as we can. We’ll need to know If the dental emergency is a result of trauma or caused through an infection that’s been left untreated. If the cause of the pain is unclear, let us know and we’ll then talk through your symptoms to get a clearer picture. We will then book an emergency appointment to see you that day.

2. Save any knocked out teeth

If the dental emergency involves a missing tooth or broken parts of a tooth, keep hold of them. The best conditions for keeping the tooth is in your mouth, but understandably not the most convenient method to keep the tooth safe. You can keep the tooth in a saline solution or in milk. If you keep as much of the tooth as you can, we stand a better chance of reinserting the tooth into the socket. Similarly if any crowns or bridges have become dislodged, keeping these makes it much easier for us to fix back into place.

3. Rinse your mouth with warm salt water

Keeping the area clean is essential to avoid any further complications. Whether there is any bleeding or not, it’s good practice to rinse your mouth with a warm, salt water solution. If it’s not too painful to do so, you can use a toothbrush to gently clean the gums and affected teeth. Avoid using any toothpaste or mouthwash as this could aggravate the area. Stick with salt water only.

4. Control any bleeding

If the issue has resulted in bleeding, you can work to stop this at home. After rinsing out your mouth with salt water, press a gauze to the site and press down for at least fifteen minutes. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, contact 999 or visit your nearest A&E for immediate assistance. For most dental emergencies, the bleeding can be managed through home first aid. Keeping calm in the situation and having someone, a friend or family member, in contact with you will help.

5. Manage any swelling

In the case of an accident or an infection, you may have swelling. Keeping this down will manage the situation and also soothe pain. A cold compress is what you’re after so find an ice-pack or even some frozen peas. Wrap this up in cloth and press down over where the swelling is at its worst. Keep this pressed down firmly for around ten minutes.

6. Take pain relief

Tooth pain can be managed with over the counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. Not only will they take the edge off the pain but will help reduce the swelling. Take note of what you take and make sure you tell us what medication you’ve used when you arrive at the practice.

7. Go to your emergency dentist appointment

We highly recommend that you contact a friend or family member to bring you to your emergency appointment. Once you’ve booked an appointment, find someone to come along with you. We aim to see dental emergencies as soon as possible so it is worth finding someone to be your driver!

Don’t hesitate to get in touch

The moment you experience dental pain, you should get in touch with a dentist. The sooner we can address any potential infections, we can save any teeth that are at risk. If you believe you have a tooth abscess, then treatment should not be delayed, you should call your emergency dentist immediately.

How painful is it to have emergency treatment

You should feel no pain at all as you will be completely numb throughout the process. Your dentist will usually apply a topical anaesthetic, this is a little gel which is applied to the gum before any injection. This numbs the gum so you can't even feel the needle of the injection.

Your dentist will then test to ensure that the area is completely numb before extracting the tooth.

You may however find that the extraction site is a little uncomfortable for a couple of days afterwards, this mild pain can be relieved with Ibuprofen, aspirin or paracetamol. This short-term mild pain shouldn't last more than a few days.

After you have had a tooth extracted, you should also avoid hot food. This is to help keep the clot in place and also to prevent you scolding yourself on a hot liquid which you may be unable to feel due to the anaesthetic injection.

Sometimes people leave their dental care to the last-minute as they are nervous patients. It's always best to talk to your dentist, especially about pain relief and anxiety, they can then modify treatments to help.

What is considered a dental emergency?

Anything that causes extreme tooth pain is classed as an emergency. If any teeth have been knocked out, if you’ve had an accident that’s damaged your teeth, and if there is any bleeding, we will view you as a priority to be seen by our emergency dentist.

We will be in the best place to advise on whether your case is urgent so give us a call and we will do our utmost to help.

Can A&E help with a dental emergency?

Most hospitals will have oral surgeons on call to help with dental emergencies however for a more prompt response, contacting a dentist directly will result in you being seen much faster.

Contact us now for an emergency

We have an online booking system for dental appointments but we recommend that if you’re having a dental emergency, call our practice. We can book you in much sooner and talk you through managing the problem at home before we see you. Call us on 020 8731 9020.

If our practice is closed, we will have out-of-hours emergency information on our phone answering machine. You can also contact the NHS on 111.

If you're looking for an emergency dentist in London that provides online booking appointment facilities and same day appointments, we would be happy to help, here is our online appointment booking link.


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