Dental emergencies require urgent attention from a dental or medical professional, even if they happen at inconvenient times.

How do you know you’re having a dental emergency?

  • Teeth have been injured in an accident
  • Bleeding from your mouth is continuous
  • Swelling in the mouth or lower face
  • Severe pain

Please note: some situations can be life-threatening and require a visit to the hospital emergency department before doing anything else.

Examples of dental situations that may require emergency hospital care:

  • Jaw fractures or dislocations
  • Severe cuts to the face and mouth
  • Skull injuries
  • An extremely infected tooth abscess
  • Difficulties breathing or swallowing

If ever in doubt, your first step is to call 000 or visit the hospital straight away. It’s best to err on the side of caution and play it safe, rather than take any risks.

Common dental emergencies that require an urgent visit to the dentist:

  • Intense tooth pain
  • Bleeding gums or teeth
  • Mouth sores
  • Broken or chipped teeth
  • Tooth has been loosened or knocked out
  • Fractured crown or filling
  • Broken orthodontic appliances (such as braces)
  • Tooth abscess (serious oral infection)
  • Ongoing and persistent bleeding and pain after dental procedure

Why is it crucial to book a dental appointment as soon as possible?

You’re more likely to make a full recovery, if you get emergency dental care. Dentists can minimise the damage (and associated expenses) by treating the problem sooner rather than later. If you delay making an urgent appointment, your situation may deteriorate and require expensive surgery.

If you’re unsure about whether or not you need an emergency appointment, call your dentist and explain what you’re experiencing. They will let you know if you should come in right away, or what you can do while you wait for your next appointment.

It’s usually best to see an emergency dentist within the hour, however this isn’t always possible or necessary. In such cases, there are certain steps you can take to minimise damage.

What to do while waiting for your dental appointment:

Extreme toothache:

Gently clean the tooth to remove plaque and food residue, before rinsing with lukewarm water. A cold compress pressed against the outside of your mouth will help to lower irritation in the area.

If you’re still in a lot of pain, take over-the-counter medication like Panadol or Nurofen – but keep the tablets from touching the inflamed spots. Be sure to read the warning and instructions. Don’t exceed the recommended dosages as this can jeopardise your health.

Knocked out tooth:

A dentist can reattach an adult tooth that’s knocked out, if you get to them in time (ideally within an hour)

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  • Pick the tooth up carefully by the white part (crown)
  • Don’t touch the root of the tooth
  • Rinse the tooth under cold water for 10 seconds
  • Gently push the tooth back into the socket, if you can (don’t force it).
  • If that doesn’t work, place the tooth in milk and transport it to the dentist
  • Alternatively: hold the tooth securely between your gum and cheek as you go to the dentist (don’t accidently swallow it)
  • Another option: cover the tooth in saliva and place it in plastic wrap

 

Stuck object:

Try to remove it yourself, but please be gentle. You can use floss or tweezers if you need to. After removal, place some pressure onto that area for a while. Make sure to visit your dentist as soon as possible.

Cracked tooth:

Rinse your mouth with warm water, then put a cold compress over the affected area. Avoid any contact with the cracked tooth and make sure to chew your food on the other side of your mouth. Book an emergency appointment with your dentist.

Bleeding from the mouth (lips or gums):

Rinse your mouth with warm water, then apply gentle pressure to the affected area to decrease bleeding until you visit the dentist.

Tooth abscess or gum infection:

Is there painful swelling on your gum, or any areas that look like a pimple? Book an urgent appointment with your dentist, because the infection can be life-threatening if it spreads to other parts of your body. While waiting for your appointment, you can apply gentle pressure to the infected area to draw the pus to the surface and relieve pain. Rinse your mouth with a warm saline solution.

Damaged braces or wires:

Don’t cut the wire, as this can be dangerous if any parts are accidently swallowed. Try using an eraser to carefully push the wire into a position that no longer irritates your gums or skin. You can temporarily cover the sharp point with cotton or orthodontic wax, while waiting to see your dentist.

We’re experienced in dealing with complex dental emergencies….

We understand how stressful and frightening it can be when someone in your family experiences dental trauma. Our dentists make time to treat emergencies, and we empower our patients by walking them through the treatment options and associated costs.

Are you unsure whether you’re experiencing a dental emergency? Call us on (02) 9489 2928 to book an appointment or to get advice on what to do next.