What to do in a Dental Emergency

The very nature of emergencies mean that they often arise when we are least prepared for them. Unfortunately, not all emergencies are limited to affecting your body. Our teeth may be fairly resilient, but they are not immune to the effects of an accident or trauma. There may also be occasions that arise whereby you are simply in too much dental pain to think about anything else and you urgently need the advice and support of a professional.


When a dental emergency arises, it can be very easy to panic and become incapable of thinking rationally. However, knowing what to do can make a big difference to how well you can manage your emergency and the potential outcome of any treatment you receive.


Here are some of the most common dental emergencies and what you should do in the event that you are affected by one of them.

dentist with patient

A knocked-out tooth

Sudden trauma to the face is the most common cause of a knocked-out tooth. However, suddenly finding that you have lost your tooth is not only painful but your immediate concern will be whether it can be replaced. While there is no guarantee that our dentist will be able to restore your tooth, by doing the following it significantly improves the chances of it being successfully reattached.

- Retrieve the tooth, being careful not to touch the roots.

- If it is dirty, rinse it with fresh water. Do not scrub it or pull off any bits of remaining root or gum tissue.

- You may be able to put your tooth back into the socket. If this is the case, do so then get to our emergency dentist as soon as possible.

- If you cannot reinsert the tooth into the socket, pop it in a clean container full of water or milk and get to our dentist as quickly as you can.

The most important thing is not to delay in getting to our emergency dentist. The sooner the tooth is replaced, the more likely it is to be saved.

Chipped or broken tooth

Not all traumas result in a tooth being knocked out. Some will chip or cause a crack in the tooth. If this results in part of the tooth coming away, you should save and rinse any broken sections and get to our dentist as soon as you can. Your tooth or the area around it may be bleeding and swollen, so you may need to apply gauze and/or a cold compress to the area while you are travelling to our dentist.

Severe dental pain

Severe dental pain is a leading cause of visits to the emergency dentist. In many cases it is caused by an underlying infection, such as a tooth abscess. While many people may think that toothache is not a dental emergency, those who have experienced it know just how debilitating it can be. You can’t eat, you struggle to speak, and it can be difficult to think about anything else. If your usual pain medication and cold compresses aren’t helping, you may need to see our dentist for urgent treatment.

Lost crown or filling

Cavities and crowns are very common dental restorations. However, it is far from unheard of for a patient to experience problems with them. If you lose a filling, the best thing to do is to temporarily fill the hole with sugar free gum so that no further irritation can occur. Then visit our dentist as soon as you can.

If you lose a crown and can retrieve the restoration, you should take it with you to our emergency dentist as it could potentially be reattached. In the event that you are unable to see our dentist for a number of hours or days, you could consider popping the crown back in place yourself and securing it with some over-the-counter dental cement. Just be sure to put it back on the right way!

Other types of dental emergency

While we have covered the main types of dental emergency above, there are many other things that can go wrong that may require the urgent attention of a dental professional. Some other types of dental emergency include:

- Abscesses

- Root canal treatment

- Emergency care for dental implants

- Gum problems

- Broken orthodontic braces including loose/broken brackets, wires and bands

- Objects caught between the teeth

- Partially dislodged teeth


If you would like more advice on what to do in a dental emergency, please contact our experienced team today.