Dental Emergency

Life is often predictably unpredictable. In the event of a dental incident or emergency, get in touch with us via our many channels or just drop in if it is during opening hours.

If you are unable to see us or receive treatment immediately, we have developed the following list of common dental emergencies and instructions. 

Please remember that these advice are generic in nature, and does not substitute a proper dental check up.

My tooth fell out after an accident

If you have been in an accident, you may find that your tooth or teeth have fallen out. This is often very distressing but it is important to remain calm as what you do in the next 60 minutes can have a great impact on the survivability of the tooth.

  • Make sure it is not a baby tooth (we do not want to put baby teeth back in a child’s mouth).
  • Find the tooth and pick it up by the crown (the head of the tooth). Avoid touching the root.
  • If the tooth is dirty, rinse it gently in milk, saline or in your own saliva.
  • If you are able, gently replace the tooth back to its original position in the mouth.
  • Once the tooth is in its original position in the jaw, bite on a napkin or handkerchief to hold it in place.
  • If you are not able to put the tooth back in, place the tooth, as soon as you can, in a storage medium (in order of preference – milk, Hank’s balanced salt solution (eg Save-a-Tooth), saliva (after spitting into a glass), saline, water)
  • Seek immediate treatment! The tooth may be saved if your dentist can get to it within 48 hours.

I have a toothache

When we are in pain, it is extremely hard to think clearly. Nobody knows this better than your dentist who sees patients with toothache all the time.

  • Try to identify what caused the pain – biting on hard food, cold or hot water, an accident to the face, or there is often no trigger at all. If you can identify the trigger, stop the cause as best you can.
  • Try to pay attention to the type of pain – dull ache, throbbing, pressure, sharp and shooting. Does it come and go, last for a short or long time. All these information are extremely helpful.
  • Clean any irritating debris from your mouth by rinsing with (warm) water; if possible, floss gently to remove any particles from between the affected region/teeth.
  • Over the counter medications such as paracetamol (Panadol, Panamax) or ibuprofen (Nurofen, Advil) may be taken together or alternating every two hours to help relieve pain – make sure you don’t have associated allergies. Take care not to exceed the recommended dose. 

My crown fell out

  • Clean away as much debri as you can
  • Examine if the inside part of the crown is hollow or has tooth structure attached to it – this information will be useful when you call us to make an appointment.
  • Put the dislodged crown in a small bag and take it with you to the dentist.
  • Being seen as soon as possible can prevent teeth next to it from moving (preventing us from putting the crown back), or infection in the tooth and the surrounding gum.

My filling is loose / my filling fell out

  • Try to see if you can retrieve the filling, if lost.
  • Gently rinse and keep in a bag and bring it with you to the dentist.
  • Rinse out any irritating debris with water.
  • Seek treatment promptly because if left untreated, the tooth may become un-fixable or develop into a toothache 

I cracked / broke a tooth

  • If you have chipped a tooth, it may be sharp and jagged, which can irritate your mouth and tongue.
  • Try to keep the area as clean as possible, as food and any foreign body can cause inflammation and infection in the area.
  • If it is hurting or cutting your tongue or lip, use a nail file to gently file it down.
  • Get in touch with us as soon as possible so we can smooth the edges and/or fill in the part that broke off.
  • In more substantial crack or broken teeth, we may need to put a crown over the tooth to hold it together and make it stronger.
  • In some cases, and if left untreated for a long time, the tooth may split right in the middle and it may not be savable.

My gums are swollen / bleeding

While a little bit of bleeding from the gum when you brush or floss is common (even though it’s not healthy!), if you have spontaneously bleeding gums, and they look swollen, it may be a sign of an acute infection.

  • Rinse your mouth to identify where the bleeding is coming from.
  • If it is not too painful, keep the area clean by gentle and thorough brushing.
  • Use a medicated mouthwash like Peroxyl, Curasept or Savacol – please note that these are not intended for long term use without medical advice or supervision, as they can have unintended side effects.
  • Get in touch with us as soon as possible because these symptoms are signs that there may be foreign body stuck under the gum causing an infection.
  • In severe cases, we may need to order a blood test to screen for other pathology.

My jaw / face is swollen

A swollen jaw or face is not only disfiguring but also concerning as it can potentially spread rapidly if it is an untreated infection.

  • Contact us at the first instance, if it is an infection, you may need some antibiotics and x-rays to be ordered.
  • If you have been given a course of antibiotics, make sure you complete the course to avoid antibiotic resistance (and definitely do not take somebody else’s leftover antibiotics!)
  • Antibiotics are only a temporary solution, so do attend your follow up appointment to avoid the issue coming back again.

Call us as soon as possible as facial swellings are predictably unpredictable. We also need to diagnose the cause of the swelling, in case it is not a dental origin, or if it is a cyst or pathology and you need to be referred to the appropriate specialists.

When should I call the hospital?

If in doubt, always get in touch with us first. However, you may need immediate medical care at the emergency department at the hospital if you have the following symptoms:

  • Swollen face or jaw that came on rapidly, and seem to be getting bigger fast
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Fever