What to do in a dental emergency

When most people are asked what they think a dental emergency looks like, many state that it usually involves a swollen area of the face and dental pain. For the most part, this is right. The majority of emergency dental teams are called because a person is suffering the early signs of a dental abscess or potentially an impacted tooth.

But from the time you identify that you have an abscess to the time you get to an emergency dental appointment, you will need to know what to do to help the issue and to keep it stable. In this article, you will be introduced to what you should do if you are experiencing a dental emergency.

Look for a dental team

Do not try to treat a dental emergency yourself!

In recent times, hospitals have been somewhat overflowing with people attempting to treat dental abscesses at home by themselves. The best thing to do is to get onto the internet and look for a ‘dentist near me’ that has an emergency department. Usually, a dental emergency team will be able to see you within 24 hours of you contacting them and will know exactly what to do to treat the emergency issue.

Don’t panic!

When you’re in discomfort, it’s easy to panic but try not to. A dental emergency is likely to become exacerbated if you become scared or nervous, simply because of constriction in the blood vessels due to cortisol caused by the stress. That’s not to say you should put yourself into a day spa for a facial, but try not to panic too much, as this will ultimately make the situation worse and could lead to dehydration through excess sweating.

Take pain relief

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If you are experiencing discomfort due to your dental emergency, take pain relief. Usually over-the-counter options are best, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, just make sure you take the recommended amount of these medications when trying to handle or manage a dental abscess. You can also apply a heat pack to your face or an ice pack if you prefer to help manage the swelling and get the blood flow going back to the area.

Clean the area (if applicable)

If you have a dental abscess, you should not brush the tooth or the surrounding area, as this will cause intense discomfort. If you notice that there is debris around the tooth, simply try to rinse it away with salt water mouthwash.

While some websites will tell you to floss around an infected tooth, this is a bad idea as it will once again cause excessive discomfort and is just unnecessary.

Don’t over exert

It is important when waiting for an emergency dental appointment to not over-exert yourself. This means not going for a jog and if you are in excessive discomfort, no driving. If you need to travel a distance to see your emergency dental team, either take public transport, book a cab or have a friend drive. You’ll be surprised at how distracting some dental emergencies can be and you don’t want to put yourself in danger!


Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

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