A dental emergency can happen at any time. In the winter, they can during a day on the sledding hill, at the ice rink, or even when unloading groceries from your car in slippery conditions.
Slips and trips are common culprits for mouth injuries. If you have a pediatric dental emergency or adult dental emergency, what should you do?
#1: If there’s severe swelling, bleeding, or pain, or if someone loses consciousness, call 911 and go to the nearest emergency room ASAP. Safety is always the first priority.
#2: After you determine health is not at immediate risk, it’s time to call the dentist for a consultation to get the best advice on what to do next.
There are also some things you can do on your own to help in a dental emergency, as you’re contacting emergency services or your dentist for professional medical help:
If a Permanent Tooth Is Knocked Out
Keep it clean and moist. Gently clean or rinse the tooth, but do not scrub it. Try not to touch the roots at all. Gently push it back into its socket if you can — in the same position. If not, you can tuck it in your mouth between your cheek and gums (just be careful not to swallow it). Putting the tooth in a cup of milk or saliva will also make a difference. Use gauze to help stop any bleeding where the tooth came out. If gauze isn’t available, use a soft, clean piece of fabric. Time is critical to saving your tooth.
If a Baby Tooth Is Knocked Out
In most cases, a baby tooth will not be reimplanted because it can damage the formation of adult teeth behind it. Follow the guidelines for a permanent tooth (above), and make the decision about the tooth with your dentist or medical professional. For younger children, put the tooth in a cup of milk or saliva instead of in their mouth, because you don’t want them to choke on the tooth. Also be vigilant about young children choking on gauze or any fabric placed in their mouth.
If a Permanent Tooth Is Knocked Loose
Protect the area to prevent further damage, and rinse it gently with warm water to clean it. Do not eat. Gently use gauze to help stop any bleeding. The gauze can also cushion the area for protection. If gauze isn’t available, use a soft, clean piece of fabric. Time is critical to saving your tooth.
If a Baby Tooth Is Knocked Loose
Follow the same guidelines for a permanent tooth (above). Especially for younger children, keep a close eye on the tooth to ensure it doesn’t come completely out and become a choking hazard. Also be vigilant about young children choking on gauze or any fabric placed in their mouth.
If a Permanent Tooth Is Cracked or Broken While Eating
Stop eating or chewing immediately and rinse your mouth with warm water to clean it. You should also rinse and save any tooth pieces you can find. A cold pack on your face will help reduce swelling. Gauze can cushion any rough or sharp edges and protect your tongue and mouth from being cut. If gauze isn’t available, use a soft, clean piece of fabric.
If a Baby Tooth Is Cracked or Broken While Eating
Follow the same guidelines for a permanent tooth (above). Be vigilant about young children choking on gauze or any fabric placed in their mouth.
If a Permanent Tooth Is knocked or You Get Hit in the Mouth
If you fall or have another accident, like getting hit in the mouth with a fast-moving ball, protect the area. Do not eat, and do not continue any activity that may have caused the problem. A cold pack can ease pain and swelling. Even if you don’t think you’re seriously hurt, you should be checked for things like jaw and tooth fractures, bruising, abscess formation, and tissue and nerve damage to your mouth and teeth, which may not be obvious to you at first.
If a Baby Tooth Is knocked or a Child Gets Hit in the Mouth
Follow the same guidelines for a permanent tooth (above).
The sooner you can see a professional in a dental emergency, the better your chance of avoiding permanent damage, and the greater your chances of saving your smile. Most dentists have an on-call option for after-hours emergencies. We do, too – just call our main number: 804.744.4335.