While they might not occur as often as other accidents, dental emergencies do happen, and knowing how to handle them immediately could mean the difference between losing your tooth or saving it. The first step in with any accident involving your mouth should be to contact your dentist. Most offices dedicate some time in their busy schedules specifically for dental emergencies. But if your dental office isn’t open, or if you’re away from home, the emergency room is the next best option.
Here’s a look at some of the most common questions about dental emergencies with expert advice from the American Dental Association’s website, Mouthhealthy.org.
My tooth has been knocked out. What should I do?
The most important thing to do for a knocked-out permanent tooth is to keep it moist at all times. If you can, try to place the tooth back in the socket without touching the root. If that’s not an option, place it between your cheek and gums, or in milk, and get to your dentist’s office as soon as possible.
My child’s tooth was knocked out. Now what?
If it’s a baby tooth, the best thing to do is find it, keep it moist and get to the dentist. Your dentist will need to determine if it was the entire tooth or just a part of it that came out. They will then determine whether to implant it again. If it’s an adult tooth, follow the instructions above.
What do I do if I crack my tooth?
Immediately rinse the mouth with warm water to clean the area, and then put a cold compress on the face to keep any swelling down. See your dentist as soon as possible.
How should I treat my tongue or lip if I bite it?
Clean the area gently with water and apply a cold compress. If there is excessive bleeding, the bleeding won’t stop or you are in a lot of pain, see your dentist or visit the emergency room.
I have a horrible toothache. What can I do?
Start by rinsing your mouth with warm water to clean it out. Gently use dental floss to remove any food caught between your teeth. While an old wive’s tale suggest you put an aspirin on the affected tooth or gums, don’t. This may cause a burn on the gum tissue. Call your dentist if the pain persists.
I think I may have broken my jaw. What should I do?
In order to control swelling, apply a cold compress as soon as possible. Get to your dentist or an emergency room immediately.
How can I remove an object that is stuck in my teeth or mouth?
Avoid using sharp or pointed instrument to remove the lodged object. Dental floss is the safest and best option to try to gently remove it. If you are unsuccessful, visit your dentist or local ER.
Should I keep anything special in my first aid kit specifically for dental emergencies?
It’s always a good idea to keep dental floss handy in case anything gets caught in your teeth. The Save-a-Tooth emergency tooth preservation kit is also something that can be added.
What should I do if I need a dentist while I’m out of town?
The American Dental Association offers a Find a Dentist tool on their website that will assist you in locating an ADA member near you.
How can I avoid a dental emergency to begin with?
Always wear a mouthguard when participating in sports or recreational activities. Avoid chewing ice, popcorn kernels and hard candy which can cause a crack in a tooth. And NEVER use your teeth to open or cut things.