What to do in a Dental Emergency?

What should I do in a Dental Emergency?

Incidents that require immediate dental care, such as bleeding, intense toothaches, and severe swelling, are classified as dental emergencies and should be examined by a dentist as soon as possible.

  • If you’re unsure if it’s an emergency, please give Adelaide Hills Family Dental reception a call during business hours on 8391 4100.
  • If the incident or issue occurs after hours, call healthdirect Australia 1800 022 222 for advice.
  • SA Dental provides emergency dental care for adults and children across SA. Phone: 1300 008 222
  • In the case of facial swelling after hours, go straight to your local GP or hospital emergency department.
  • If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

Emergency Care Tips

In the meantime there are some emergency care techniques to help before professional treatment.


  • Remove debris by rinsing the mouth with warm water. Doing this should remove food or tooth fragments from doing any further damage.
  • If there is swelling, apply a cold compress to the outside of the affected cheeks to help numb the pain and prevent further inflammation.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication.

Chipped tooth / teeth:

  • Examine the damaged tooth or teeth for any sign of pink coloration where it’s damaged. Pink coloration points to an exposed nerve that needs immediate dental care to prevent severe pain.
  • There is no immediate need to get to the dental clinic for chipped teeth without any sign of exposed nerves.

‘Knocked out’ tooth / teeth

  • Find the tooth.
  • Handle a knocked out tooth only by the crown, never by the root.
  • Avoid scraping off soft tissue from the tooth.
  • Clean the tooth by rinsing it. Milk would be best, but water should do fine as long as exposure is quick.
  • Place the tooth back in its socket and hold it in place.
  • If the tooth does not stay in the socket, immerse it in milk and seal it in an airtight container.


  • Modulate the pain with over-the-counter pain relievers. Do not apply pain relievers directly to the abscess.
  • Apply cold compress on the affected cheek.
  • Do not let the pain continue, as abscesses never heal on their own. Seek attention from a dentist as soon as possible to prevent it from developing into a life-threatening condition.

Bleeding Gums

  • Apply pressure to the affected area using a clean cloth. Keep applying pressure for at least 10 minutes to stop the bleeding.
  • Use a cold ice pack / compress to slow down the swelling and numb the pain.
  • Gargle warm salt water to clean the wound and prevent infection.

Dental emergencies can happen at any moment and at any time so it’s best to be prepared. Early assessment and treatment can make all the difference.