What should you do in case of a dental emergency? & How to take care of your dental issue/health?

Medical emergencies are something we all wish to avoid. Nevertheless, we should always “expect the unexpected” and be prepared for an emergency. In a particularly heart-wrenching story, a 12-year-old boy passed away in 2007 when the bacteria infection from an abscessed tooth spread to his brain (Louis, 2013). This story teaches us a painful but important lesson: In situations of high urgency like dental emergencies, action needs to be taken and taken fast!

This article will therefore help teach you what to do in the case of a dental emergency. 

What constitutes a dental emergency?

Before we begin talking about what to do, we should all learn what exactly dental emergencies are. Not all toothaches or situations of pain are life-threatening and constitute a dental emergency.

Dental Emergencies are problems that require immediate attention to stop bleeding, alleviate severe toothache and pain or saving a tooth. Additionally, severe infections or abscess in your mouth are also considered dental emergencies.

If you’re still not sure if what you are experiencing constitutes a dental emergency, here are a list of questions you should ask yourself:

  • Are you bleeding from the mouth?
  • Are you in severe pain?
  • Do you have swelling on your gums, mouth or facial area?
  • Have you lost a tooth?
  • Do you have loose teeth?
  • Have you experience high impact to your mouth or face?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you could be facing a dental emergency. Please call and describe your condition to your dentist immediately.

What should I do if I have a dental emergency and my dentist is closed?

Dental emergencies can strike anytime of the day. In the case where your dentist is closed or unavailable, here are some temporary home remedies and the breakdown of potential treatments you could receive once you reached your emergency dentist. 

For Uncontrolled Bleeding from Mouth

Temporary Home Remedies: 

Check for the source of bleeding and avoid rinsing and spitting from that area repeatedly as it could prolong bleeding. If possible, apply pressure to area using gauze/cotton pads. Note not to repeatedly change gauze/cotton pad as it does not help to stop bleeding.

Next, assessment of bleeding should be done. When mixed with saliva, bleeding could seem excessive. If a lot of blood is pooling in the mouth and forming large lumps which are jelly-like, please seek immediate medical attention at any 24-hour emergency dentist.

Potential Treatment by Emergency Dentist:

Assessment will be done to determine source and cause of bleeding e.g.: taking of X-rays. If required, local anaesthesia or pain killers will be given to patient before stitches or antihemorrhagic agents (also known as haemostatic agents) are given to the patient to help stop bleeding. 


For Severe Toothache

Temporary Home Remedies:

Rinse mouth with warm salt water and use dental floss to remove food residue between teeth. You can consider taking painkillers (e.g.: Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Tylenol or Paracetamol) to help ease the pain temporarily.

Avoid chewing or biting on tooth causing toothache and minimize its contact with food and beverages of extreme cold/hot temperatures.

In the case where your severe toothache is accompanied with swelling of gums surrounding the tooth, this could suggest a severe infection which requires immediate medical attention at any 24-hour emergency dentist.

*It is extremely important to consider any medical allergies before consuming painkillers. If possible, please seek advice from your dentist or pharmacist.

Potential Treatment by Emergency Dentist:

Assessment will be done to determine source and cause of bleeding e.g.: taking of X-rays. If required, local anaesthesia or pain killers will be given to patient before commencement of appropriate treatment.

If the tooth can be saved, a root canal treatment could be conducted. Else, patient may need to get a tooth extraction.


For Severe Mouth/Facial Swelling

Temporary Home Remedies:

Apply a cold compress to the swollen area. In the case where your severe mouth/facial swelling is accompanied with swelling of gums, this could suggest a severe infection which requires immediate medical attention at any 24-hour emergency dentist.

Potential Treatment by Emergency Dentist:

Assessment will be done to determine source and cause of swelling e.g.: taking of X-rays. If the cause is attributed to a problematic wisdom tooth or infected tooth, the dentist will take the most appropriate measure to remove the infection quickly e.g.: wisdom tooth extractions, normal tooth extractions or root canal treatment.


For Mouth/Facial Trauma

Temporary Home Remedies:

Apply a cold compress to the area which sustained high impact. If tooth was dislodged during incident, handle tooth by only its crown and do not touch the roots of tooth. Rinse tooth gently to make sure it is clean. Do not brush the tooth or remove any tissues attached to it. If you can, gently place the tooth back into its socket and hold it in place while trying to bite down. If it is not possible to do so, store tooth in a cup of milk and seek immediate medical attention at any 24-hour emergency dentist. Time-lapsed is extremely critical for saving a knocked-out tooth hence it is ideal to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Potential Treatment by Emergency Dentist:

The emergency dentist will stop any severe bleeding with compression, stitches or antihemorrhagic agents and thoroughly clean up dirty wounds before treatment. Loose teeth or jaw may be fixed by using a splint to aid healing. Knocked-out tooth will be replanted with hopes of success. 

Dentist will do follow-ups and may schedule additional treatment (e.g.: root canal treatment) for the patient. Teeth that suffered high impact may face internal tissue death over the next few weeks resulting in tooth infection and may therefore require root canal treatments.

**Please note that for all dental emergencies listed above, home remedies are simply temporary measures that alleviate your pain and discomfort. Ultimately, these measures do not solve the underlying problem and you are still highly advised to seek medical help from your dentist/any emergency dentist as soon as possible. 


24-hour Emergency Dentist in Singapore

If your dental emergency is listed above and is worsening, waiting won’t do you any good. Here is the list of 24-hour emergency dentist (governmental) in Singapore:

Singapore General Hospital Department of Emergency Medicine

Location: 1 Hospital Crescent, Outram Rd, Singapore 169608 (Block 1, Level 2)

Emergency Hotline: +65 6321 4311

National University Hospital Department of Emergency Medicine 

Location: 5 Lower Kent Ridge Rd, Singapore 119074

Emergency Hotline: +65 6772 5000

Prevent Dental Emergencies by Caring About Your Oral Health

I’ve said this once and I will say this again. Prevention is better than cure!! Why wait until it happens to take action? What you should be doing is taking the necessary precautions. Here are some ways to prevent dental emergencies:

  • Schedule dental check-ups regularly
  • Be cautious when doing high-risk activities e.g.: contact sports, driving
  • Brush and floss your teeth daily
  • Reduce consumption of tough, chewy or sugary foods
  • Ask your dentist about preventive dental procedures


Here at Vivid Dental Surgeons, we aim to educate our patients on matters regarding oral hygiene and health. Especially amidst this COVID-19 period, we encourage everyone to stay safe and maintain good oral hygiene. Let’s all do our part in keeping the community and ourselves healthy. 

If you liked this article, you can click here to read other oral-health related articles on our blog. Also, if you have any questions regarding oral health matters, feel free to drop Dr Ryan a message here. Dr Ryan and the Vivid Dental Team wishes everyone a pleasant and virus-free day ahead!


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