What Can Be Considered as a Tooth Emergency?

What Can Be Considered as a Tooth Emergency

What Can Be Considered as a Tooth Emergency?

Getting a toothache can be a very unpleasant experience. Toothaches can be caused by stress or simply biting down on hard food. In many cases, a minor toothache can go away on its own, so you won’t need to see a dentist.

However, if a toothache does not go away on its own and the problem is more serious, you must contact your dentist to see if they can book you in for an emergency appointment.

So, what constitutes a tooth emergency?

A tooth emergency refers to a tooth problem which requires urgent dental care or treatment, as it could lead to further medical problems if left untreated.

Below are some examples of a tooth emergency:

Dental emergencies

These require immediate attention, to minimise the risk of serious medical complications and prevent long-term problems. These are seen regularly in A&E departments.

  • Uncontrollable dental haemorrhage following extractions
  • Rapidly increasing swelling around the throat or eye
  • Trauma confined to the dental arches

Contact your dentist as soon as possible if you are experiencing any of the following dental emergencies:

  • Severe dental and facial pain which does not go away with over-the-counter medications
  • Trauma to the face
  • A knocked-out tooth
  • Dental and soft tissue acute infection
  • Excruciating tooth pain
  • Swelling of the gums, cheek, or face
  • Excessive bleeding after tooth extraction which persists even after biting into gauze

Go to A&E as soon as possible if:

  • The pain is severe
  • There is heavy bleeding
  • You have injuries to the face, mouth, or teeth
  • You have difficulty breathing

If you’re unsure whether you should go to A&E, contact NHS 111 via telephone or use the 111 online services, and the trained professionals can advise you.

What is NOT classed as a tooth emergency?


These are not urgent, so you could potentially treat the problem by yourself, or speak to your dentist for guidance.

  • Minor toothache
  • Small cavity
  • Dislodged crowns and bridges
  • Losing a filling
  • Broken dentures or braces
  • If you require surgical extractions (wisdom teeth) but are not in pain
  • Sensitive or bleeding gums
  • Mouth ulcers that have existed for less than 10 days
  • Chipped tooth

It is not classed as a tooth emergency if you:

  • Have a hospital referral letter
  • Require permanent restorations
  • Have non-traumatic problems with orthodontic appliances
  • Have no significant pathology
  • Require a second opinion
  • Want to use emergency dentist services to have a routine check-up
  • Want a cosmetic dentistry service, such as teeth whitening, teeth straightening, dental bonding or veneers

What can you do for a toothache when the dentist is closed?

Oftentimes, a toothache can go away on its own, or after you use home remedies.

Take Ibuprofen or paracetamol regularly, but never more than 4 doses a day. You may find it helpful to use over-the-counter medications such as tooth pain gels.

You can also try holding a cold compress to the side of your face to reduce swelling.

Moreover, rinsing your mouth with salt water can ease tooth inflammation.

Research has shown that peppermint tea bags can soothe sensitive gums and numb pain, as it kills bacteria found in the mouth. Pour boiling water over a peppermint tea bag and wait for it to cool. While it is slightly warm, apply it to the affected area.


If your toothache is very painful and does not go away after taking painkillers, consider visiting an emergency dentist.

At Didsbury Dental Practice, we are a 24-hour emergency dentist. You can book an emergency appointment with us by calling our dental emergency helpline on 0161 445 0005.

It is not necessary for you to be an existing patient at our practice. We routinely receive calls from Manchester hotels to provide emergency dental care for their tourist guests. Our emergency dental care is second to none.

Find out more about our emergency dental services on our webpage here.

What if my child has a tooth emergency?


It’s never nice to see your little one experiencing a toothache or having an accident that damages a tooth.

Follow these steps if your child has a tooth emergency:

  • Stay calm. Your child may be distressed or crying if they have hurt themselves or lost a tooth. Be patient and speak to them in soothing, reassuring tones.
  • Assess the situation. Check your child out thoroughly. Look out for any facial swelling or bleeding.
  • Remove any objects from the child’s mouth, such as food, a dummy or a bottle.
  • If your child is bleeding from the mouth, grab a clean gauze or paper towel and ask your child to bite down on it. You can also apply a cold compress to the child’s face.
  • See an emergency dentist
  • If your child has lost a tooth, try to find the tooth and bring it with you to an emergency dental appointment. Do not touch the root of the tooth as you handle it, and place it in a container of milk to preserve it.
  • If the problem is more serious, call your GP, call 111, or visit A&E as soon as possible.
  • Never ask your child to rinse their mouth with saltwater.
  • Do not give your child hard foods (such as carrots) or sugary snacks to eat and drink.
  • Do not ask your child to brush their teeth.
  • If you take your child to be examined, bring a teddy, toy, or iPad to distract them while you wait.

If your child has a high temperature (fever) of 38C or more, give them plenty of fluids and check on them regularly during the night.

Give your child either paracetamol or ibuprofen- read the instructions on the packaging or speak to a doctor or pharmacist to ensure the medicine is suitable for your child.

What does a tooth infection feel like?

Symptoms of an infected tooth can include:

  • Throbbing tooth pain
  • Throbbing pain in the jaw, ear or neck
  • Lump, bulge, or pus-filled pimple around the infected tooth
  • Pain that worsens when you lie down
  • Discoloured or loose tooth
  • Sensitivity to pressure in the mouth
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks
  • Cheek swelling
  • Tender or swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Fever
  • Bad breath
  • Foul taste in the mouth

What happens if a tooth infection goes untreated?

Ignoring a tooth infection can have dangerous consequences for your health and well-being. Tooth infections and abscesses do not go away on their own.

You must seek treatment urgently, otherwise, the infection can spread to other parts of the body, such as the neck, head, and even blood vessels and heart valves.

In some cases, a severe bacterial tooth infection can lead to sepsis, which is a life-threatening reaction to an infection.

If you have a tooth emergency, do not delay seeking treatment. See a medical professional as soon as possible and be honest about the symptoms you are experiencing.

If a doctor or dentist prescribes you any medications, take the full course and inform them if you face any further problems. Just because any pain or swelling has gone away, it does not mean that the tooth infection has completely gone.

How do I know if my tooth infection has spread to my body?


If your tooth infection spreads elsewhere in your body, this can be potentially life-threatening. You should visit an emergency dentist, seek advice from the NHS 111 service, or go to A&E.

  • You feel headachy, fatigued, confused or dizzy
  • Your skin is flushed and sweaty, or you have the chills
  • Your body temperature has increased
  • Your face swells, which makes it hard to open your mouth, swallow, or breathe
  • You become dehydrated
  • Your heart rate or breathing rate increases
  • You experience stomach pain, diarrhoea or vomiting
  • You go in and out of consciousness

What can a dentist do for me if I have a tooth infection?

Local anaesthesia will usually be used to numb the mouth during these procedures.

What antibiotics can I take for tooth infection?


Not all tooth infections require you to take antibiotics to treat them. Antibiotics are generally used when your infection is severe, if the infection has spread, or if you have a weakened immune system.

Antibiotics work by killing bacteria or preventing them from spreading. Many mild bacterial infections get better on their own without using antibiotics.

Amoxicillin and penicillin are the most common antibiotics used to treat tooth infections.

Take antibiotics as directed on the packet or the patient information leaflet that comes with the medicine, or as instructed by your GP or pharmacist. If you miss a dose of antibiotics, do not take an extra dose to make up for this; just carry on as normal with the course of antibiotics.


To find out more about Didsbury Dental Practice, visit our website here.

Find out more information about our emergency dental treatment on our webpage here.

We offer a range of dental treatments to help patients with a tooth emergency – from fractured teeth, loose crowns, broken dentures, dental implants, swellings, and more.

We are an out-of-hours dentist practice because we know dental problems don’t always stick to 9.00 am to 12.00 am.

If you are looking for an emergency dentist in Manchester, call our dental emergency helpline on 0161 413 2835, for out-of-hours services. Alternatively, walk into the practice and we will aim to see you as soon as possible.

To read more articles on our blog, visit here.

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