Accidents happen, and knowing what to do when one occurs can mean the difference between saving and losing a tooth.
Here are some tips for common dental emergencies:
- For a knocked-out permanent or adult tooth, keep it moist at all times. Handle the tooth by the crown (top), not by the root (the pointed part on the bottom); touching the root could damage cells that are necessary to reattach the tooth to the bone. Gently rinse the tooth in water to remove dirt, but do not scrub it. If you can, try placing the tooth back in the socket. If that’s not possible, place it in between your cheek and gums, or in milk. Then, get to your dentist’s office right away.
- For a cracked tooth, immediately rinse the mouth with warm water to clean the area. Put cold compresses on the face to keep any swelling down.
- If you bite your tongue or lip, clean the area gently with water and apply a cold compress. Bleeding from a tongue laceration can be reduced by pulling the tongue forward and using gauze to place pressure on the wound.
- For toothaches, rinse the mouth with warm water to clean it out. Gently use dental floss to remove any food caught between the teeth. Do not put aspirin on the aching tooth or gum tissues.
- For objects stuck in the mouth, try to gently remove with floss but do not try to remove it with sharp or pointed instruments.
- If your tooth is loosed and pushed out of position, call your dentist right away; in the meantime, attempt to reposition your tooth to its normal alignment using light finger pressure – but don’t force it.
When you have a dental emergency, it’s important to visit your dentist
or an emergency room as soon as possible.
There are a number of simple precautions you can take to avoid accident and injury to the teeth:
- Wear a mouthguard when participating in sports or recreational activities.
- Avoid chewing ice, popcorn kernels and hard candy, all of which can crack a tooth.
- Use scissors, NEVER your teeth, to cut things.
Most dentists reserve time in their daily schedules for emergency patients. Call your dentist and provide as much detail as possible about your condition.