What to Do in a Dental Emergency


If you suddenly find yourself with a dental emergency it's good to be prepared so that you know what to do, it's also good to think in advance and take some small steps to ensuring that the emergency is either minimised or you have quick access to treatments.

If you suddenly find yourself with a dental emergency it's good to be prepared so that you know what to do, it's also good to think in advance and take some small steps to ensuring that the emergency is either minimised or you have quick access to treatments.

In this blog post I take a look at the types of dental emergency, what you can do, how you might be able to prevent them and how you can gain rapid access to an emergency dentist if you need to.

What is the definition of an acute dental emergency

A dental emergency is any dental situation which could lead to, or has already led to:

What is not covered under the definition of an acute dental emergency?

The following are examples of treatment which would require care by a dentist but would not be defined as an acute emergency:

Types of dental emergencies

As you can see the definition of dental emergency is quite broad, we will look at first aid for acute dental emergencies a little later on, but let's take a look at what to do in the event of a less serious dental emergency.

A chipped tooth

Your teeth are pretty strong but there is always a limit as to what they can stand! A chipped tooth is not in itself a dental emergency, but if the chip takes off a large section and the pulp is exposed this can then become a more serious condition which needs immediate treatment.

If just the outer surface of the tooth or a corner has chipped off the enamel we recommend calling the dentist and booking an appointment as soon as you can. Your dentist will normally be able to repair small chips such as this by bonding on some dental composite to replace the area lost.

If the chip goes deeper then you may need to apply some gauze to the area if there is bleeding. A cold compress applied to the cheek may also help to minimise any swelling and/or pain. If you are unable to see the dentist immediately then the pharmacist may be able to supply you with some dental cement, often used to replace crowns, apply this over the exposed area and the pain should subside.

You may also find that painkillers can help.

A broken denture

If your denture breaks we highly recommend that you do not try to fix it yourself, many dentists offer emergency denture repairs as do many dental laboratories. Try searching on the Internet for ‘denture repair <

Broken or dislodged crown or other dental restoration

Firstly, make sure you retrieve the crown. Crowns normally come out whilst you are eating so it's quite simple to find them… Try to avoid swallowing them as this is rather more difficult to retrieve!

You may find there is quite severe pain and sensitivity over the tooth where the crown has fallen out, applying a small amount of clove oil may work to reduce the immediate pain.

If you are able to get to a pharmacist, purchase a crown replacement kit and replace the crown yourself, then make an appointment at your dentist to have it permanently reseated.

Under no circumstances use any other form of blue to replace your crown, superglue, for example contains a variant of cyanide!

First Aid for Acute Dental Emergencies

If you have a genuine dental emergency the priority is to stop bleeding:

Dental emergencies in sport

Dental emergencies in contact sports can be quite regular occurrences. The advice for an emergency is the same as for the first aider advice above.

Prevention of a dental emergency in sport can be achieved by ensuring that you always wear and accurately fitting mouthguard. Mouth guards should ideally be made by your dentist as they will be precision made to fit you perfectly.

A sports mouthguard works by spreading the load of any impact across your entire mouth, avoiding pressure on any single tooth or individual part of your jaw.

How long does it take to get an emergency dentist appointment?

Each dental practice works on a different format however, most practices will reserve a few spare appointments each day for dental emergencies. The first port of call should always be to contact your own dentist who are obliged to include emergency and out of hours details on the answerphone.

Dental emergencies on holiday

We all hope that whilst we all holiday that we can enjoy our time away uninterrupted by dental emergencies however, the rather odd occasions when one might crop up unexpected either due to a sudden infection or accident.

The same advice for emergencies applies as previously discussed but it is also worth knowing that you can go some way to beginning this process before you go away.

Denplan practice membership includes worldwide insurance for dental treatments received as a result of injury or emergency whilst abroad, it also gives you 24-hour emergency helpline assistance.

Denplan cover starts from as little as £11.95 per month which includes two dental checkups per year including dental x-rays, one hygienist visit per year as well as discounts on dental treatments… you still get much more than just the insurance.



Article last time updated on 30.10.2018.

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