Emergency Dental Care: What to Do and Where to Go?

When a dental emergency strikes, it’s often unexpected and can be quite distressing. Whether it’s a sudden toothache, a broken tooth, or a lost filling, knowing what steps to take can significantly ease the situation. This article aims to guide you through the essentials of handling dental emergencies, ensuring you’re prepared to act swiftly and effectively. 

1. Recognising a Dental Emergency

Do you know when it’s time to seek immediate dental care? Identifying a dental emergency is the first critical step. Severe toothache, often indicative of an underlying issue, shouldn’t be ignored. If you’re experiencing intense pain, especially when accompanied by swelling or fever, it’s a clear sign to seek help. 

Similarly, bleeding that doesn’t stop, injuries leading to lose or knocked-out teeth, and swelling in the mouth or facial area are red flags. It’s not just about discomfort; these symptoms can signify more serious problems requiring prompt attention.

2. Immediate Steps at Home 

What should you do the moment a dental crisis strikes? While some situations necessitate immediate professional intervention, others allow for first-aid measures at home. For instance, a toothache might find temporary relief through rinsing with warm water and gently using dental floss to dislodge any trapped food particles. 

If you suffer a broken tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water right away to clean the area, and apply a cold compress on the cheek to reduce swelling. In case of a knocked-out tooth, retrieve the tooth, hold it by the crown (not the root), and if possible, gently reinsert it in its socket. If reinsertion isn’t possible, keep the tooth moist in milk or saliva until you can reach a dentist.

3. Choosing the Right Dental Service

Navigating the options for dental care can be daunting. Ask yourself: Is this a regular dental issue or an emergency? Regular issues include routine check-ups, cleanings, and minor toothaches. These can typically wait a short while until a standard appointment is available. 

In contrast, emergencies demand immediate attention. These include severe pain, significant bleeding, or trauma to the face or mouth. If you’re uncertain, it’s always best to call a dental office. Many offers over-the-phone guidance, helping you decide if an immediate visit is necessary. 

Remember, choosing the right type of care not only ensures you get the right treatment but also helps dental professionals manage their schedules more effectively, ensuring urgent cases receive priority.

4. Visiting an Emergency Dentist

When the decision is made to visit an emergency dentist North London, being prepared is key. Here are some tips to make your visit as efficient as possible:

  • Describe Your Symptoms Clearly: Be ready to explain your symptoms in detail. This includes when the pain started, its intensity, and any potential causes you might think of. Accurate information can lead to faster, more effective treatment.
  • Bring Your Dental Records: If possible, bring your recent dental records. They provide valuable insights into your dental history, allergies, and past treatments.
  • Inquire About Payment and Insurance Options: Dental emergencies can be stressful enough without worrying about finances. It’s prudent to ask about payment options and whether they accept your dental insurance.

5. Prevention and Future Care

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” as the saying goes. This is especially true in dentistry:

  • Regular Check-ups: Regular visits to your dentist help prevent emergencies. These check-ups can catch potential problems before they turn into emergencies.
  • Good Oral Hygiene: Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and using mouthwash can significantly reduce the risk of dental problems.
  • Protective Measures: If you engage in sports or grind your teeth at night, consider using a mouthguard. This simple device can prevent many tooth and mouth injuries.

6. Understanding Modern Dental Emergencies

With the advent of new technologies and lifestyle changes, the nature of dental emergencies is evolving. For instance, the rise in energy drink consumption has seen an increase in dental erosion cases, leading to emergencies. Staying informed about these trends can help you take proactive steps in your dental care.

7. Dental Emergency Kits

Consider keeping a dental emergency kit at home. This should include items like gauze, a small container with a lid (to store a knocked-out tooth), over-the-counter pain relief medication, and the contact details of your dentist.


Dealing with a dental emergency can be a challenging experience, but knowing the right steps to take can make all the difference. Quick action, choosing the appropriate care, and preventative measures are key. 

Remember, regular dental check-ups play a vital role in preventing emergencies and maintaining overall oral health. In the event of a sudden dental problem, consult a dentist in Harrow or an emergency dentist in North London to ensure prompt and effective treatment.

Author bio:

Malavi Sivakanesan

Malavi Sivakanesan is the co-Founder & Operations Director at Complete Smiles in Harrow, Greater London. She is responsible for establishing the Complete Smiles brand throughout the United Kingdom and Europe and has 5 successful practices under her strong leadership.

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