What to do in a dental emergency

Posted: Jan 19 2021

What’s classed as a dental emergency?

If you’re not sure whether or not you’re experiencing a dental emergency, ask yourself these quick questions:

  1. Are you bleeding from the mouth and will it not stop?
  2. Have you been hit in the face or mouth and do you have any loose, chipped or cracked teeth?
  3. Do you have any swelling in the mouth or lower face?
  4. Do you have any bulges or swollen gums?
  5. Are you in severe pain?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then you have a dental emergency and need a dental assessment as soon as possible to help prevent permanent damage.

What to do if a tooth is knocked out?

Permanent tooth

Find the tooth and pick it up by the crown (top half). Try not to touch the root and definitely don’t scrub or rub the root surface. Don’t wrap the tooth in a tissue or cloth – this will dry out the tooth.

If the person is conscious:

  1. Hold the tooth by the crown and lightly place back into position using the other teeth as a guide.
  2. Get the person to gently bite on a soft cloth to hold the tooth in place.
  3. Once in position, if it’s very loose, fold a small piece of aluminum foil over the area to help keep the tooth in place or if the person has a mouthguard, place this into their mouth to stabilise the tooth.

If the person is unconscious or unresponsive:

  1. If the tooth is clean, place in a container of milk (if possible) or seal in plastic wrap.
  2. If dirty, rinse the tooth with milk or salt water if available. If not, rinse briefly (only a few seconds) in water to remove dirt and debris.

Seek immediate dental advice, ideally within 30 minutes. Every minute counts when trying to save a permanent tooth.

Baby tooth

  • Don’t put a baby tooth back into the mouth.
  • Most children under five years have baby teeth only.
  • If in doubt, place the tooth in milk and take it and your child to seek dental advice.

What to do when a tooth chips, cracks or breaks

Place any collected tooth fragments in a sealed container of milk. Seek dental advice as soon as possible and inform the staff member that you’ve had an accident and you need an urgent appointment.

What to do if you have a tooth abscess – root infection

If you’re experiencing extreme pain to hot or cold temperatures and when biting down, you might have a tooth abscess. This is an emergency and you should seek dental advice as soon as possible.

If you’re in extreme pain from hot or warm food and drink, try drinking or sipping ice water – it can help relieve the pain.

If you’re experiencing sensitivity to cold or it’s painful to breathe in air, avoid cold foods and beverages and breathe through your nose.

More information on after hours dental emergencies

Posted: Jan 19 2021


The information contained here is of a general nature and does not take into account your personal medical situation. The information is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or used for therapeutic purposes. Should you require specific medical information, please seek advice from your healthcare practitioner. Health Partners does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them.

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