What to Do in a Dental Emergency During the Coronavirus Crisis

Aged male feeling terrible toothache, dental illness, lack of calcium, caries
Ridgway Dental
31, Mar 2020

Measures to slow the spread of coronavirus may make emergency dental emergency treatment less accessible.

Not only are dental practices no longer able to provide routine care, but levels of emergency treatment may also be reduced as many dentists redeploy to join the NHS frontline fight against COVID-19.

If you have a dental emergency and are showing no signs of coronavirus, phone your regular dentist for advice on your options.

If you have a dental emergency and have symptoms of COVID-19, access the NHS 111 service online – only phone 111 if you’re unable to get help online.

How You Can Help Yourself in a Dental Emergency

Because prompt treatment for an acute dental problem may be more difficult to find during the coronavirus crisis, it’s more important than ever that you know how to help yourself in a dental emergency.

Keeping calm and taking some simple steps ahead of your emergency treatment can help you get through the unfortunate experience by making it less of an ordeal.

You never know when you may suffer a sudden dental predicament, so we’ve put together some tips to help you look after yourself in a dental emergency during the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) lockdown as you wait for your emergency appointment.

Here are some of the most common dental emergencies, and what you can do about them.


painkillers for dental emergency

Over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol can ease toothache. If you have coronavirus symptoms, it may be advisable to avoid ibuprofen.

Using a fluoride toothpaste and cutting back on sugary foods can help to prevent toothache from getting worse.

You can also rinse your mouth with warm water and hold an icepack to your face. Don’t use a hot-water bottle or other source of heat – this will make things worse.

You could also try to floss around the tooth gently to dislodge any food debris that may have accumulated.

Bleeding from the Mouth

Blood in your saliva could be a sign of gum disease (periodontitis) so it’s crucial to maintain a good routine of oral hygiene to help counter the underlying infection.

Brush your teeth and gums twice a day, paying particular attention to the affected area. Floss daily to clean between your teeth.

Knocked-Out Tooth

dental emergency
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Keep the tooth – it may be possible to have it put back in later. Handle it by the crown, not the root, which would damage the tissue that aids re-implantation.

If you can’t put the tooth back in place (without forcing it), put it in a small container of milk, or a cup of water with a pinch of salt.

Pain after Tooth Extraction

If you’ve recently had an emergency tooth extraction, discomfort can get worse after a few days. Take over-the-counter painkillers and rinse carefully with warm salt water after meals. If pain persists after a week, call your dentist.

Crown Falls Out

Save the crown for your dentist. If the tooth is painful, apply a small amount of clove oil to the affected area.

Try to put the crown back in place, using Toofypegs, or toothpaste to coat the inner surface to act as an adhesive. Never use superglue.

Mouth Ulcer

Use a treatment like Bonjela, especially before meals. Maintain good oral hygiene and take over-the-counter pain relief if needed.

Rinsing with salt water will help to combat infection, while a mouthwash like Difflam may help to ease pain.

denture fixative for dental emergency

Denture Problems

If your dentures have become loose, a denture fixative or denture pads may help. If your dentures are rubbing against your mouth, you may be able to use an emery board to smooth out rough bits and sharp edges.

Leave your denture out if it becomes too sore to wear.

How to Help Safeguard Yourself Against a Dental Emergency

While it’s vital to follow the guidelines on keeping yourself and others safe during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s also important not to overlook oral healthcare at home.

You can help to ensure effective oral hygiene by:

happy brusher avoids dental emergency
Photo of healthy attractive woman with long dark hair standing in hotel bathroom and cleaning teeth with brush and toothpaste
  • Brushing your teeth and gums for at least two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush that fits your mouth comfortably.
  • Rinsing your brush after use, storing it upright and allowing it to air-dry. Keep your toothbrush separate from others to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Replacing your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every three months or sooner if the bristles begin to fray.
  • Flossing between your teeth every day to remove food debris from areas your toothbrush can’t reach.
  • Using an anti-bacterial mouthwash containing fluoride.

Easing the Stress of Your Dental Emergency

relax with dental emergency

Knowing what to do in a dental emergency during the coronavirus crisis should take some of the stress out of the situation and help you to avoid panic.

Keep in mind that in most cases dental emergencies are far less severe than other urgent medical problems and discomfort is typically the issue rather than a serious threat to your health.

Bear in mind also that when things get back to normal, you’ll most likely need non-emergency dental treatment to completely resolve the problem that caused your dental emergency.

Meanwhile, please stay safe during these trying times.

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