Following guidance from the Chief Dental Officer (England), we are currently unable to offer face-to-face appointments, including emergency appointments. However, during this time, we are committed to ensuring that you have access to as much information as possible. This guide should help you from home until you can be seen by a dentist. Please remember that whilst our doors may be closed, we are answering our telephones for advice, so please do contact us if you are unsure. We may choose to refer you to a local hub if we feel you need to be seen by a dentist.

What is a dental emergency?
Some dental concerns may require urgent attention, whereas some may be less urgent, meaning you can try some self-help remedies and wait until you can be assessed by your dentist.

Which symptoms require urgent attention
• Facial swelling extending to the eye or neck.
• Bleeding following an extraction that does not stop after 20 minutes pressure with a gauze/ clean hankie (a small amount of oozing is normal just like if you had a grazed knee).
• Bleeding due to trauma that does not stop.
• Significant toothache preventing sleeping or eating, or associated with significant swelling or fever that cannot be managed with painkillers.
Visit A&E if you have the following symptoms
• Facial swelling affecting vision or breathing, preventing mouth opening more than two fingers width.
• Trauma causing loss of consciousness, double vision or vomiting.

Non urgent (can wait)
• Loose or lost crowns, bridges or veneers
• Broken, rubbing or loose dentures
• Bleeding gums (occasional)
• Broken, loose or lost fillings
• Chipped teeth with no pain
• Loose orthodontic wires that don’t cause trauma in your mouth

How to manage toothache

If there is a hole in the tooth, or a tooth has cracked causing discomfort and is now sensitive or sharp, a temporary filling can be packed into the space. These are widely available from supermarkets and pharmacies but are temporary and not to be used long-term. We are able to supply you with a temporary kit if you cannot source one easily. Please call us on 0114 2686076 to organise collection.

Good cleaning with fluoride toothpaste and reducing sugar intake can help stop any potential decay getting worse.

How to manage sensitivity
Desensitising/sensitive toothpaste like Sensodyne repair and protect can also help if you rub the toothpaste directly onto the affected area and do not rinse afterwards. Anaesthetic gels such as Orajel can also help ease pain.

How to manage a lost crown
If you lose a crown, the best advice will be the personalised advice that you can get from a dentist. There are temporary repair kits but they are fiddly to use. Your dentist may be able to help by talking this through with a video link, or they may be able to advise if it is OK to leave the crown off until normal dental care resumes.

How to manage painful Wisdom teeth
Wisdom tooth pain is usually due to inflammation of the gum over the erupting tooth, which can be worsened by trauma from biting. Most flare-ups can be managed with thorough home care and should settle in a few days. If you have difficulty swallowing, swelling in your face or cheek, or difficulty opening your mouth, call your dentist. You may need antibiotics if you have an infection or a minor infection that is spreading.

Ensure excellent cleaning – Even if it is painful to brush, the area must be kept clean to encourage healing.

Avoid Corsodyl mouthwash – Although it may seem like a good idea, avoid using Corsodyl mouthwash for more than a few days, as use for a few weeks as it could cause staining.

Soft diet – Eating soft foods will reduce the chance of trauma from biting.
Painkillers – You can take Ibuprofen or paracetamol to reduce inflammation but ensure you follow the instructions on the packet.

How to manage ulcers

Although painful, most ulcers will heal within 7-10 days. Non healing ulcers/oral lesions present for more than three weeks should be assessed by a dentist or doctor.

Ensure excellent cleaning – The mouth must be kept clean to encourage healing and prevent more ulcers forming. Be gentle and use a soft/baby toothbrush.
Difflam (Benzydamine) spray or mouthwash – Use this as needed to treat your sore mouth.

Denture adhesives – if rubbing dentures are causing your ulcers, adhesives like Fixodent may help secure a loose denture. Any sharp edges may be very carefully removed using an emery board. It is advisable to remove dentures where possible if they’re causing trauma.

How to manage pain or healing after an extraction
If you’re feeling pain after an extraction, you should take regular painkillers for up to seven days. It is normal for pain to be at its worst on day three or four. We cannot provide antibiotics for pain after extractions unless an infection is present.

Some pink spit/oozing is normal after an extraction, but if the socket is bleeding freely, bite hard on gauze or a clean hankie for 20 minutes. If bleeding has not stopped call your dentist for further advice.

If you smoke or rinse too soon after an extraction, you risk a dry socket and this can be very painful, with regular painkillers unlikely to be effective. If this happens, you should call your dentist to seek an emergency appointment. Antibiotics will not solve this, as a dressing is needed to cover the exposed bone.

How to manage bleeding gums
Bleeding gums are not a dental emergency as this is most commonly associated with gum disease, and will not stop until brushing improves. Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes, concentrating especially on the areas that are bleeding. Ensure that you interdental brushes to clean between your teeth every day.

Whilst these won’t cover every issue, if you follow these tips you can ensure you will keep your mouth as healthy as possible until you can see your dentist again. We are always at the end of the phone.
0114 2686076