What to do if you have a Dental Emergency

What to do if you have a Dental Emergency

If you have ever had a dental emergency, you will understand how frightening and painful it can be. Often people are unsure what constitutes a dental emergency, who they should call, and what they can do at home when they experience a dental emergency. Simply follow these guidelines for determining how to best handle your dental emergency.


Certain dental emergencies are urgent while others can be treated later on. It is especially important to understand the difference between the two if you experience a dental emergency over the weekend or during nighttime when dental offices are typically closed.

The following are examples of urgent dental emergencies:

  • Bleeding gums that will not stop
  • A loose or knocked out tooth
  • Traumatic injury to the jaw
  • Painful swelling
  • Painful toothache that will not subside
  • Swollen cheeks or face in combination with a toothache
  • Extreme tooth sensitivity

Urgent dental emergencies should be dealt with right away! Call or whatsapp our practice on 0977 606364 immediately if you experience any of the above problems.

The following are examples of non-urgent dental emergencies:

  • Lost Filling, Crown, or Bridge
  • Broken or Cracked Tooth (unless the tooth is causing you severe pain)
  • Broken or Damaged Retainer or Night Guard
  • Food lodged between teeth
  • Dull toothache
  • Small Chip in Tooth
  • Mild tooth sensitivity

If you experience a non-urgent dental emergency, it is still recommended that you contact your dentist as soon as possible. While the situation may be able to wait a few days, it is imperative that you notify the practice right away.


Your dentist is the obvious go-to when you experience a dental emergency, but in some situations, it may be best to go straight to a hospital. As a general rule, you should go to a hospital if you are experiencing unbearable pain or bleeding that cannot be stopped and the dental practice is closed.  The staff at the hospital will most likely manage the pain and/or bleeding for the night, until you can get to the dental practice.  In these situations our emergency line is always open (0977 606364), and one of our dentist will be available to guide you through what you should do.  We will usually ask you to come through as soon as the practice opens the next morning.

If you are not in excruciating pain, you are advised to call your dentist and explain the situation. Most dentists will attempt to see you as soon as possible, but don’t worry if they can’t see you right away. Many dental emergencies are not urgent (even though they may feel like they are!).


Depending on the dental emergency that you experience, there may be things you can do at home to help ease your pain and remedy the situation. Regardless of the emergency, one of the most important things to do is stay calm. When you get anxious your body triggers a number of responses that may make your emergency worse, so try your best to remain calm while seeking the assistance that you need.

The following are a list of suggested things you can do at home to help ease any pain or discomfort caused by a dental emergency:

  • Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a mug of warm water and use it as a warm mouthwash to relieve irritation and reduce swelling.
  • If you have a tooth knocked out, put it in a glass of milk until you can get to your dentist.
  • Floss! If you are experiencing pain surrounding one specific tooth, it is possible that something has gotten stuck between your teeth or inside the gum tissue.
  • Use a cold compress to help reduce swelling, numb irritation, and stop any bleeding that may occur.
  • Rinse with Hydrogen Peroxide to help kill bacteria and alleviate irritation.
  • Take the prescribed dose of an over-the-counter pain medication to help alleviate any discomfort.
  • If the pain is being caused by a toothache or cavity,  crush some cloves, and immerse them in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Leave the cloves to infuse into the oil for an hour or two.  Then pour a little of the clove infused oil onto a gauze or cotton wool, and bite on it with the tooth which is has the cavity.


If you suffer a dental emergency, you may be wondering what you can do in the future to prevent another one from occurring. The best way to protect yourself from a dental emergency is to see your dentist twice a year for comprehensive hygiene visits. If you keep these appointments you are much less likely to have something painful and unexpected occur in your mouth.

Other tips for preventing dental emergencies include:

  • Complete whatever treatment your dentist recommends for you during the advised treatment plan. Dental problems only get worse with time. If you put off a filling, crown, or root canal, you are putting yourself at-risk for unexpected pain in the future.
  • Brush and floss daily. Developing a strong oral hygiene routine will help keep your mouth healthy and your teeth strong.
  • Take it easy on foods that are especially tough or chewy. Examples include hard bread, bones, hard biltong, hard candy, and chewy sweets.
  • Ask your dentist if you have periodontal disease (gum disease). If you have gum disease, you may need additional hygiene visits each year to take care of proper tooth maintenance.

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