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Dental Emergency: What To Do, Who To Call, Where To Go

It’s 3am, your wisdom tooth is pounding, your head’s about to explode and you’re going bonkers. Ouch. What do you do?

dental emergency flowchart buttercup dental

If you’re having a dental emergency, right now, then worry not! We’re going to take you through a few options of what to do, who to call and where to go. If you’re not having an emergency, then take note anyways. Our little guide might come in handy at some point.

What to do?

Start with assessing your pain. On a scale from 1-10 how much pain are you in?

If you’re in pain but managing (0-6), let’s talk home remedies, then you can call your dentist first thing in the morning.

If you’re in pain, there are different ways to deal with it:

  • Painkillers. Ibuprofen is usually the best pain killer for a toothache, as it’s anti- inflammatory. A toothache is often caused by swelling, so the ibuprofen can take the notch off the pain. If you are allergic to aspirin, paracetamol are the next best thing.
  • Brush, floss and rinse in cold water to make sure no food is stuck agitating your gums.
  • Use cold packs for a swollen face and sore gums to numb the pain
  • Try sleeping with your head in an elevated position, when your head is elevated blood doesn’t causing extra pressure on sensitive areas.

If the pain is unbearable, let’s talk about who to call:

Who to call?

If your pain is unbearable and can’t wait until the morning (7-10), it’s time to call for some help.

If it’s still day time, start by calling your own dentist. They’re likely to be able to arrange a last minute appointment for you, or they can redirect you to an emergency clinic that can see you sooner.

If you’re unlucky enough to have a toothache out of hours, don’t worry. At Buttercup we’re open 7 days a week, and chances are we can get you in on a short notice if you are in desperate need. But not all clinics are open all days off the week, and if you toothache starts Friday night, then you might be in for the longest weekend of your life if you don’t do anything about it.

Start off by calling your own dentist to see if theanswer machine recommends any emergency services in the local neighbourhood. If they don’t have a suggestion for out of hour treatment, then it’s time to call the NHS 111 helpline. It’s quick and easy, and they can help you find a dentist near by.

Where to go?

You should only go to the hospital if the circumstances are very serious. This could be if you are in severe pain (9-10), if heavy bleeding occurs or if you have suffered a head injury.

If you’re in doubt whether to rock up at the A&E or not, call the NHS 111 helpline.

999 is for life threatening issues only, so unless your life depends on it, they’ve got more important things to worry about. It doesn’t matter how you arrive at the hospital, whether it be by car, bus or ambulance – your condition will be prioritised upon arrival and the more serious cases will of course be the first to be dealt with.


Remember that if your toothache lasts longer that 1-2 days, it’s unlikely to go away by itself.

If you are suffering from a tooth ache, contact us here or book an appointment so we can help you get back to normal.

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