Emergencies & Problems

Any dental emergency, like an injury to the teeth or gums can be potentially serious and should not be ignored.  Ignoring a dental problem can increase the risk of permanent damage as well as the need for more extensive treatment later on.

Most dental problems can be dealt with during regular dental surgery hours.  However, if you have any of the symptoms listed below, you may need more immediate treatment, either calling our after hours number to contact your dentist or a 24 hour Dental Centre.


You may have a dental emergency if you have any of the following:

  • Severe swelling in your mouth, face or neck

  • Uncontrolled bleeding

  • A traumatic injury to your mouth, jaw or teeth 

  • Severe pain that you cannot control with non prescription pain medication

NOTE : if you have trouble breathing or your mouth continuously fills with blood, call 111 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.


Dental first aid at home

Click on the links below to find out more information about how to handle different dental issues:

What should I do if I lose a filling?

Pain is the issue here.  If you are not in any pain, simply keep the area clean and see your dentist as soon as you can.  If it hurts, as a temporary measure, stick a piece of sugarless gum into the cavity (sugar filled gum will cause pain) or use an over the counter dental cement.  See your dentist as soon as possible.


If a crown or bridge falls off

Make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible (remember to bring the crown with you).  If you can’t get to the dentist straight away, and the tooth is causing pain, use a cotton swab to apply a little clove oil to the sensitive area (clove oil can usually be purchased at your local pharmacy or in the spice aisle of your grocery shop).  If possible, slip the crown back over the tooth.  If possible use with an over-the-counter dental cement, toothpaste or denture adhesive, to help hold the crown in place.  Do not use super glue!


If you knock out a tooth

Retrieve the tooth, hold by the crown (avoid touching the root area) and gently rinse under the cold tap for about 10 seconds to remove any dirt.  Do not scrub or remove any of the attached tissue.  Try to reposition the tooth correctly.  Do not force into place.  Bite on a clean cloth or tissue to help hold in place. 

If this is not possible, place the tooth in a suitable storage container with milk or preferably a saline solution.  If possible it can be transported in the mouth (keeping it between the molars and the inside of the cheek).  If the patient is very young, this is not advisable; he/she could swallow the tooth.  You could get the patient to spit into a small container and place the tooth in this.

Contact your dentist, or an emergency dentist immediately.


If a tooth becomes dislodged or loose

See your dentist immediately.   Gently bite together to hold the tooth in place.  If you are in pain, you can apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area.  Take an over-the- counter pain reliever if necessary.

If you have chipped or broken part of a tooth

See your dentist as soon as possible.  Save any pieces.  Rinse your mouth using warm water and rinse any broken pieces.  If there is bleeding apply gauze to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops.   Place any broken pieces in a container with milk or a saline solution and take with you to your dentist.


Soft tissue injuries (tongue, cheeks, gum, and lips)

To control any bleeding, here’s what to do:

  • Rinse your mouth with a mild salt-water solution.

  • Use a moistened piece or gauze or a teabag to apply pressure to the site.  Hold in place for 15-20 minutes.

  • To both control bleeding and relieve pain,  hold a compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area for 5-10 minutes.

  • If the bleeding doesn’t stop, see your dentist right away or go to a hospital emergency room.  Continue to apply pressure on the bleeding site with the gauze until you can be treated. 


First, thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm water.  Use dental floss to remove any lodged food.  If your mouth is swollen, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth or cheek.  Never put asprin or any other pain killer against the gums near the aching tooth because it may burn the gum tissue.  See your dentist as soon as possible.



Abscesses are infections that occur around the root of a tooth or in the space between the teeth and gums.  They are a serious condition that can damage tissue and surrounding teeth, with the infection possibly spreading to other parts of the body if left untreated.

Because of the serious oral health and general health problems that can result from and abscess, see your dentist as soon as possible if you discover a pimple-like swelling on your gum that usually is painful.  In the meantime, to ease the pain and draw the pus towards the surface, try rinsing your mouth with a mild salt water solution (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in one cup of water) several times a day.