Knowing how to handle a dental emergency can mean the difference between saving and losing a tooth. Here are some tips to help you cope quickly and calmly with a dental emergency.
- If something happens to any of a child’s primary teeth, or “baby teeth,” you should take your child to the dentist as soon as you can. If a tooth is completely out, do not try to insert it back in the 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.
- A baby tooth should not be implanted back in the mouth, but a permanent tooth should. Hold the tooth by the crown, and if it is dirty, rinse the root 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 wash cloth or gauze. If this isn’t possible, or if the person cannot safely hold the tooth in his/her mouth, put the tooth in a container with milk, saliva or water. Go to the dentist as quickly as you can. Don’t forget to bring the tooth and any tooth pieces you can find!
Rinse the mouth with warm water to keep the area clean. Put cold compresses (like an ice pack or a washcloth with ice wrapped inside) on the face to reduce swelling. Go to the dentist right away. If you can find the broken tooth fragment, bring it with you to the dentist. Wrap the tooth piece in some wet gauze or a wet towel if possible.
Bitten Tongue or Lip
Clean the area gently with a cloth and place cold compresses (like an ice pack or a washcloth with ice wrapped inside) on the area to keep swelling down. If there is a lot of bleeding or if it doesn’t stop after a short period of time, go to a dentist or an emergency center.
Objects Caught Between Teeth
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.
Rinse the mouth with warm water to clean it out. Take what you would normally take for pain. Do not put aspirin on the aching tooth or gum tissue. Go to the dentist as soon as you can.
Possible Broken Jaw
Apply cold compresses (like an ice pack or a washcloth with ice wrapped inside) to control swelling. Go to the dentist or an emergency center right away.
If a Dental Emergency Happens While You Are Traveling
- Look up www.ada.org on the Internet and click on “Find a Dentist” to find an ADA member dentist near you.
- Ask the local hospital or dental society to recommend a dentist.
- Ask the hotel concierge or other hotel staff to refer you to a dentist.
- If you are out of the country, contact the U.S. Embassy. Many embassies and consulates keep lists of local medical and dental staff, which may also be available online at www.usembassy.gov. After clicking on the country you are visiting, medical listings are usually found under the heading “US Citizen Services.”
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