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If you are in an accident and sustain an injury to your teeth, or you develop sudden bleeding or swelling in your mouth, this can be very frightening. You will be aware that you need emergency dental treatment, but it is important not to panic. Keeping a cool head is just as important if you are a member of the family, friend or bystander. By staying calm you are likely to be able to obtain emergency dental treatment more quickly, and to be able to do the right thing until you can reach the emergency dentist.

What emergency dental treatment can I do myself?

What you can do for yourself depends on the type of dental emergency you are experiencing. If you have sustained an injury playing sport, or in a fall, and you have knocked one or more teeth out, it is vital to try to find the missing tooth. Emergency dental treatment in the first 60 minutes, to push an avulsed tooth back into place can save the tooth and will be less traumatic in terms of future treatments.

You can also sit upright and use a piece of clean clothing or a tissue to stem the flow of blood until help arrives. Bystanders will hopefully then be able to provide immediate on-site emergency dental treatment and first aid.

If you develop a painful abscess or severe pain with swelling and flu-like symptoms, you need to phone an emergency dentist to arrange to be seen immediately. If you are alone, you will need to raise help from a friend, family member or neighbour to take you there as soon as soon as you have an appointment. Emergency dental treatment in this case is not really applicable, but you could take ibuprofen or paracetamol to ease the pain. 

What kind of emergency dental treatment can my friend give me?

If you have been hurt in an accident it is important that any teeth that have been knocked out are retrieved. A bystander needs to take the following precautions:

  • Always handle the tooth that has been knocked out by the tooth end. Try not to touch any tissue at the other end, as this could be crucial to repairing the blood supply to the tooth if it can be replaced by emergency dental treatment.
  • If possible, try to gently push the avulsed tooth back into the empty gum socket. When you get professional emergency dental treatment, it may need to be repositioned, but the all-important blood supply may have been saved. Reinstating the tooth immediately may not be possible for many reasons; there may be too much bleeding, it may cause too much pain, or the gum may have already become distorted by swelling.

If the tooth needs to be transported to the site of the emergency dental treatment, the best place for it is inside the patient’s mouth, held between their gum and their cheek so that it is bathed in saliva. An alternative medium to preserve the tooth is a small container of milk.

What emergency dental treatment can stop bleeding?

Bleeding from the gum where a tooth has been knocked out completely or knocked out of position often appears profuse. However, there are no major blood vessels in the gums, and giving the injured person a small wad of cotton wool or clean material to hold against the damaged gum is a simple form of emergency dental treatment that will usually stop the bleeding within minutes.

How do I arrange emergency dental treatment?

The ideal situation is to contact your own dentist for advice. If they are closed, the answer machine of the practice should have instructions and a number to call to access emergency dental treatment. You can also call NHS Direct (0845 4647), or your local Primary Care Trust Helpline. Both will be able to give you information about an emergency dentist or out-of-hours dentist in your local area.

Once you, or someone looking after you, has located an emergency dentist you need to be taken there as soon as possible. Patients with severe tooth injuries, or an abscess that is pressing on your throat or windpipe are usually seen immediately as emergency dental treatment could save your teeth, or even your life.

Thinking about getting private dental treatment?

Download our free PDF guide


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