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Tooth Trauma

Dental emergencies can happen at any
time. Oral injuries can be painful and
should be treated by your dentist as soon
as possible. Learn more about what to do
during a dental emergency.
What are dental emergencies and
how can I avoid them?
A dental emergency is when your tooth
breaks, cracks, becomes loose, or is
knocked out completely. Sometimes, a
dental crown can come off your tooth,
or your lips, gums, or cheeks can be cut.
Some emergencies can be avoided if you
take simple precautions, such as wearing
a mouthguard while you’re playing sports
and avoiding hard foods that can crack or
break your teeth.
What should I do if my tooth is
knocked out?
Your tooth will have the best chance of
surviving trauma if you see your dentist
within one hour of the incident—so call
immediately for an appointment. Handle
your displaced tooth by its crown (the
top), not by its root (the pointed part
on the bottom). Touching the root of
your tooth can damage the cells that are
necessary to reattach your tooth to the
bone. Gently rinse your tooth in water to
remove dirt. Do not scrub!
Then place your clean tooth in your
mouth between your cheek and gum to
keep it moist. If it is not possible to store
your tooth in your mouth, wrap it in a
clean cloth or gauze, and immerse it in
milk or saline solution (used for contact
lenses). If your child has knocked out
a baby tooth, the tooth should not be
replanted. However, your child should
visit the dentist immediately to ensure no
broken pieces of the tooth remain in his
or her mouth.
What should I do if my tooth is
pushed out of position?
If your tooth is loose and pushed out of
position, call your dentist right away to
schedule an emergency appointment. In
the meantime, you can attempt to reposition
the tooth to its normal alignment using
light finger pressure—but don’t force it!
How should I handle a chipped or
fractured tooth?
There are different types of tooth fractures.
Chipped teeth are minor fractures,
while damage to your enamel, tissue,
and/or pulp indicates a moderate fracture.
Sustaining a severe fracture usually
means that your tooth has been traumatized
to the point that it cannot be saved.
If you fracture a tooth, rinse your
mouth with warm water and use an
ice pack or cold compress to reduce
the swelling. Also, take ibuprofen—not
aspirin—for pain, and call your dentist
to schedule an appointment as soon as
possible. Your dentist can smooth minor
tooth fractures, but some fractures may
require restorative procedures. If you can
find the broken tooth fragment, bring it
with you to the dentist.
What should I do if the tissue in
my mouth is injured?
Serious injuries inside your mouth include
tears or cuts, puncture wounds, and lacerations
to your cheeks, lips, or tongue.
Any wound to the inside of your mouth
should be cleaned with warm water, and
you should contact your dentist immediately.
If you can’t see your dentist right
away, you should go to a hospital.
If you or someone you know sustains a
dental injury, it’s important to contact
your dentist right away.

For more information
about dental emergencies, speak
with your general dentist.