Chipping, breaking or cracking a tooth usually isn't serious. Your dentist will usually be able to treat it.

See a dentist if you or your child has:

  • chipped, cracked or broken a tooth

If a piece of tooth has broken off, put it in milk or saliva (by spitting into a container if it's your tooth, or having your child spit into a container if it's theirs) and take it to the dentist.

Don't go to your GP. They won't be able to give you dental treatment.

How to see a dentist in an emergency or out of hours:

  • call your dentist - if they're closed, their answerphone may say what to do

If you don't have a dentist or can't get an emergency appointment:

  •  NHS 111 Wales call 111 - they can advise you what to do
  • find a dentist near you - ask for an emergency appointment

What the dentist will do

Treatments for a chipped, broken or cracked tooth include:

  • gluing the fragment of tooth back on
  • a filling or a crown (a cap that completely covers the broken tooth)
  • root canal treatment for a badly broken tooth where the nerves are exposed

General Advice for common Dental Emergencies


What is a dental emergency?

Thankfully, dental emergencies are not common but can cause concern when they occur. The following is a self-help guide to consider before contacting a dentist.

The following are classed as emergencies, and you are advised to see your regular dentist or contact NHS Wales 111:

  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or cheeks the is causing difficulty breathing. This usually requires an urgent referral to an A&E department
  • Dental pain that is not relieved by simple painkillers
  • Teeth that have been knocked out or severely broken
  • Serious cuts to the lips or gums
  • Bleeding from tooth sockets after an extraction that cannot be stopped

The following are not considered an emergency but you are advised to seek dental assistance:

  • Chipped teeth with no pain
  • Loose or lost crowns, bridges or veneers
  • Fractured or loose dentures
  • Fractured or lost fillings
  • Loose wires on braces
  • Bleeding gums without pain.

The following advice is recommended for most dental problems

  • Take regular pain killers
  • Try and keep your mouth clean and reduce the amount of sugary foods
  • Make an appointment to see your dentist
  • If you do not have a regular dentist contact your local Health Board Dental Helpline
  • This is common and tends to stop with pressure over the socket
  • Bite on a clean handkerchief or gauze for 20 minutes
  • If bleeding continues contact your dentist or NHS 111


  • This is commonly a sign of gum disease
  • Your dentist or hygienist will advise on a course of gum treatment.
  • Continue to brush your teeth and gums despite the bleeding, as this actually helps


  • Consider using a fixative available from your Pharmacy or local supermarket.
  • If your mouth is very sore, leave the denture out and seek advice from your dental practice.


  • Seek dental advice
  • Continue to clan your teeth and avoid sugar to prevent further damage to the tooth.


  • Ulcers are common and normally heal in a few days
  • If you have had a mouth ulcer for 3 or mor weeks make an urgent appointment to see your dentist for advice
  • Mouth ulcers are uncomfortable so take regular pain killers
  • Keep your mouth clean and rinse with warm salt water after every meal to prevent infection.
  • Pharmacists will advise on mouthwashes.


  • This is to be expected and patients are advised to tale painkillers on a regular basis for 3-4 days after the extraction.
  • If pain is getting worse contact your dentist or NHS 111.


  • Try placing a sensitive toothpaste on the affected areas and leave in place for an hour, without eating or drinking in that time.
  • Use regular painkillers if needed.
  • Keep your mouth clean with regular toothbrushing
  • Seek dental advice


  • Keep your mouth clean with regular toothbrushing
  • Pain relief with simple painkillers if necessary
  • Book an appointment with your dental practice
  • If the whole tooth has been knocked out this is an emergency and needs urgent attention


  • This is the sign of a possible tooth or gum abscess
  • Take painkillers as needed.
  • Use warm salt water mouthwash to encourage drainage.
  • If the swelling starts to make the lips, cheeks or tongue swollen this is an emergency and need to see your dentist or local Emergency Department.

Urgent Dental Helplines

If you need to find an NHS Dentist or if you have an urgent dental problem, you should contact your local Dental Helpline. You should only contact the telephone number for the service that covers the area where you live or are staying in.

The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website nhs.uk
Last Updated: 06/06/2022 13:08:37