When is it appropriate to call an emergency dentist?

26th March 2016 by

We Brits too often take a ‘stiff-upper lip’ approach to visiting the doctor or dentist, but it’s important to get appropriate medical treatment in a dental emergency

Dental visits should be a yearly or twice-yearly occurrence for the average patient. Dental practitioners use this time to assess your oral health and to keep an eye out for any red flags that may blossom into something more dangerous. However, should you be one of the unlucky people who experience an unexpected dental emergency in London, you’ll find yourself hurriedly rushing to your dentist for help and pain relief.

Dentists are always eager to help should an emergency arise, but it is important that patients are aware of what constitutes a dental emergency, so they can make plans as soon as feasibly possible. Severe infections and abscesses can be life-threatening so there’s no time to waste. Below are a list of the most common dental emergencies.

Avulsed tooth (having a tooth knocked out)

If you have recently had an accident, perhaps while playing your favourite sport, and your tooth is sent flying, it is important to act quickly. As soon as a tooth is lost from the mouth, tissues, blood vessels and nerves are exposed that could potentially become damaged. Time is of the essence in this scenario, as the sooner the tooth is placed back into its socket, the more likely it is that the surrounding tissues will be able to support the tooth again. More advice from the British Dental Health Foundation.

Should one of your teeth be forced out, call your dentist. In the meantime, pick up your tooth if possible and if visibly dirty clean it by rinsing briefly with warm water, never touching the root. If you can, place the tooth back into its socket (the correct way round). If you are unable to do this, keep the tooth moist by placing it in a cup of milk or water. Don’t allow the tooth to dry out. Your dentist will take it from there. Time is of the essence if you want a chance to keep your tooth.

A dislodged or loose tooth

It is natural to panic if you notice a loose tooth. It is not something we expect as adults, and the sensation can be very uncomfortable. It can occur either through physical trauma or dental infection; either way, your dentist might be able to save your tooth, as your tooth is still in your mouth and attached by nerves and blood vessels. Contact your dentist, take a pain-killer and use an ice-cold towel to reduce swelling. Be warned that the longer you leave your tooth, the more likely it is that a root canal will be required.

Missing crown or filling

Crowns or fillings can occasionally be lost due to trauma, usually while eating. Once you lose the filling or crown, the tooth itself is likely to be particularly sensitive to pressure and temperature. It is important to note that crowns often become loose if the affected tooth is decaying, prompting a change in tooth shape that means the crown isn’t longer able to fit.

As soon as you notice that the piece is missing, arrange a dental crown appointment and keep your crown in a safe place; it is possible that your dentist may be able to reinsert it. This trip to your dentist should not be avoided or delayed. The longer you leave your teeth, the more likely it is that your teeth might shift out of position. For missing fillings, book a white filling appointment with our expert dentists for a replacement.

Fractured or broken teeth

Your teeth are coated with enamel, and this is the hardest, strongest substance in your body – even harder than bone. However, enamel is not indestructible. Teeth can still be cracked, fractured or broken from time to time. These injuries can be caused by teeth grinding, or by using your teeth as tools to open things such as bottles. Teeth weren’t meant to be used in this way, and over time they suffer.

You might not even know you have a fracture, as they can be fairly painless, but it is important that you get them seen to right away. If the fracture spreads to the root, you will experience significant pain. Should you suffer a broken tooth, clean the fragment with warm water, take a pain-killer and bring the fragment to the dentist as soon as possible.


If you are suffering from extreme tooth pain, it can be a good indicator of an emergency. The pain might be caused by a number of serious conditions, such as an abscessed tooth, exposed root surfaces, tooth decay and infected gums. The longer you leave the situation, the more likely it is that the underlying problem will worsen, meaning that you will end up paying much more in terms of money and discomfort at a later point.

There are any number of situations that might call for a trip to an emergency dentist. It is a good idea to pay attention to what your body is telling you and to contact a professional immediately. An experienced dentist will be able to assess and rectify the situation while putting you at ease.

Should an emergency occur, contact our award-winning dental team at Bow Lane Dental on 020 7236 3600.

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