Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies can happen at any time. Knowing what to do when they arise can make a big difference in saving a tooth and/or comforting the child. Here is a quick summary of the most common dental emergencies and the appropriate actions to take.

Objects caught between teeth:
  • Try to gently remove the object with dental floss.
  • Call your dentist if unable to remove the object.

 

Toothache:
  • An over-the-counter analgesic such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given for pain.
  • DO NOT place aspirin on the gum or on the aching tooth. Contact your dentist.

 

Soft-tissue injury:
  • Apply direct pressure with a clean cloth or a moist tea bag to the area involved.
  • If bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes or it cannot be controlled by simple pressure, take the child to a hospital emergency room or urgent care.

 

Fractured or broken tooth:
  • Rinse dirt from injured area with warm water.
  • Control any bleeding by applying gauze to the area and contact your dentist immediately.
  • Locate and bring all broken tooth fragments to your appointment.

 

Knocked-out baby tooth:
  • Do not place the baby tooth back into the socket. It may cause problems with the development of the permanent tooth.
  • Call your dentist and apply gauze to the area for about 15 minutes to control bleeding.

 

Knocked-out permanent tooth:
  • Find the tooth. Handle the tooth by the top (crown), not the root.
  • If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse it under running water. DO NOT scrub or remove any tissue from the tooth. DO NOT handle the tooth unnecessarily.
  • Try to reinsert the tooth into its socket. Have the child hold the tooth in place by biting on clean gauze or cloth.
    • If the tooth cannot be reinserted, transport the tooth in a cup of milk. If milk is not available, place the tooth in cold Gatorade or cold contact lens solution. Water or saliva can be used as a last resort.
    • See your dentist as quickly as possible. Knocked out teeth having the greatest chance of being saved are those seen by a dentist and returned to the socket within one hour.

 

Possible broken jaw:
  • Go immediately to the emergency room.
  • Immobilize the jaw and apply a cold compress to control swelling.

 

Broken braces and wires:
  • Loose or broken appliances which do not bother the child don’t usually require emergency attention.
  • If a broken appliance can be removed easily, take it out. If it cannot, cover the sharp portion with dental wax or a pencil eraser.
  • If a wire is stuck in the gums, cheek or tongue, bring the child to their orthodontist or dentist.

Things to Know

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