Accidents happen, and knowing how to handle a dental emergency can mean the difference between losing a tooth and saving it. Here are some tips to help you cope quickly and calmly with a dental emergency.
What should I do if my tooth is knocked out?
We’re all at risk for having a tooth knocked out. More than 5 million teeth are knocked out every year. Teeth that are knocked out may be possibly re-implanted if we act quickly and calmly. Here’s what you should do:
- Locate the tooth and handle it only by the crown (chewing part of the tooth), NOT by the roots.
- DO NOT scrub or use soap or chemicals to clean the tooth. If it has dirt or debris on it, rinse it gently with your own saliva or whole milk. If that is not possible, rinse it very gently with water.
- Get to a dentist within 30 minutes. The longer you wait, the less chance there is for successful re-implantation.
Baby tooth If something happens to any of a child’s primary (baby) teeth, they need to be seen by a dentist as soon as possible. If a tooth is completely out, do not try to put it back into the tooth socket. Although it is normal for children to lose primary teeth, an accident that damages a primary tooth could also harm the permanent (adult) tooth underneath.
Adult tooth Unlike a baby tooth that is knocked out, an adult tooth should be put back into the socket. After you find the tooth, hold it by the crown (top), not the root. If the tooth looks dirty, rinse the root briefly with water. Do not scrub the tooth or remove any attached bits of tissue.
If possible, gently insert and hold the tooth in its socket with a clean washcloth or gauze pad. If this isn’t possible, hold the tooth under your tongue. If that does not work either, put the tooth in a container with milk, saliva, saline (salt) solution, or an emergency tooth preservation kit. If none of those liquids are available, put the tooth in water.
What should I do if I have a broken or cracked tooth?
Rinse your mouth with warm water to keep the area clean. Put a cold compress (like an ice pack or a washcloth with ice wrapped inside) on the face to reduce swelling. If you can find the broken tooth piece, bring it with you to the dentist. Wrap it in some wet gauze or a wet towel if possible. Go to the dentist right away.
What should I do if I have bitten my tongue or lip?
Clean the area gently with a cloth and place a cold compress on the area to keep swelling down. If there is a lot of bleeding or if it doesn’t stop after a short time, go to your dentist or an emergency center.
What should I do if I have something caught between my teeth and I can’t get it out?
Gently try to remove the object with dental floss. If that does not work, go to the dentist. Do not try to remove the object with a sharp or pointed instrument
What should I do if I have a really bad toothache or a swollen face?
Rinse the mouth with warm water to clean it out. Take what you would normally give take for pain. Do not put aspirin directly on the aching tooth or gums. If your face is swollen, see your dentist or physician. Swelling of the face can be a sign of serious infection.
What should I do if I have possibly broken my jaw?
Apply a cold compress to control swelling. Go to your dentist or an emergency center right away.
If a Dental Emergency Happens While You Are Traveling
- Go to ADA Find-a-Dentist to find an ADA member dentist near you.
- If you are out of the country, contact the U.S. Embassy. Many embassies and consulates keep lists of local medical and dental staff.
If you think you are having a dental emergency, don’t wait. Located in Jacksonville, FL, JR Dental and Associates’ Emergency dentists are available to help. Call today at (904) 786-5850