Managing Dental Problems at Home - East Renfrewshire Champions Board

Managing Dental Problems at Home

Managing Dental Health at Home

Current Scottish Government guidelines are to exercise social distancing and to only allow telephone advice to be given by your dentist. Your dentist may advise painkillers and/or antibiotics to help manage your problem. In urgent situations you may be asked to attend a health board site for treatment.

This is not how dentists would normally provide care for you, however due to the situation and the strict need for social distancing, it is a compromise we must all accept in the meantime. This guide contains some useful hints and tips to help manage common dental problems. (We do not recommend any specific brands, brands other than those pictured in this guide are available).

Good Habits

It is important to brush your teeth twice daily for 2 minutes with a toothpaste that contains Fluoride. During lockdown it is easy to snack more often but it is best to avoid sugary snacks between meals as this can increase the chances of tooth decay. Useful tips can be found by visiting:

This was developed with children in mind but the information can be used for all of the family.


If there is decay in a tooth and it is extremely sensitive to hot or cold, then antibiotics are unlikely to help.

Good cleaning with a Fluoride toothpaste and reducing sugar intake will help to stop the decay from getting worse.

Once services return to normal your dentist can remove the decay and place a filling.

Sensitive toothpaste can help. Rub paste on the sensitive area and do not rinse after.

Colgate Toothpaste

Pain Control

Over the counter painkillers, such as Paracetamol and/or Ibuprofen can help to settle the pain but make sure to follow the instructions. Taking too many tablets will NOT improve the pain but can cause serious medical problems overdose.

Ibuprofen  Paracetamol

If these measures do not help the pain or if you have a swelling, then contact your dentist for further advice.

If there is a hole in the tooth or the tooth/filling has cracked then:

  • A self made temporary filling can be packed into the space. Temporary filling kits are available from supermarkets and pharmacies
  • Take painkillers
  • Avoid very hot or cold food

If there are sharp edges you may be able to cover it with sugar free gum, a bit of soft wax or cotton wool. It may feel very sharp at first but your tongue/cheek will usually settle within a few days.

Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom tooth pain is usually due to inflammation of the gum around the tooth. This can be made worse by biting from the top tooth.

Most flare-ups can be managed with simple measures and should improve within a few days to a week:

  • Take painkillers
  • Mouthwash with Chlorhexidine or warm salty water
  • Soft diet (to reduce trauma from biting)
  • Brush the area gently with a small headed toothbrush (even if it is painful) as good oral hygiene will help it heal faster

Contact your dentist if you have any of the following, as you may need a course of antibiotics:

  • Swelling in your face or cheek
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty opening your mouth

Pain after tooth extraction

Pain after an extraction is common for several days, but can usually be well controlled with painkillers.

If you smoke or rinse too soon after an extraction then there is a risk of dry socket. This is when the blood clot in the extraction socket comes away. This can be very painful and antibiotics do not help with this.

If this occurs you can gently rinse using warm salty mouthwashes to help soothe the area and continue taking painkillers until the pain settles, which can be up to 2 weeks.

Bleeding after tooth extraction

Slight bleeding can occur for a day or so following tooth extraction. This often seems worse than it really is, as the blood mixes with saliva. This will appear pink when you spit out.

If there is continued bleeding then:

  • Gently rinse with warm water to remove excess blood
  • Place a rolled up piece of cotton or gauze over the socket and bite firmly to maintain continuous pressure for 20mins before checking if the bleeding has stopped
  • Repeat this once if necessary
  • If bleeding does not stop then contact your dentist

If you continue to have problems after tooth extraction then contact your dentist for further advice.