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Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies can occur when your tooth breaks, cracks, becomes loose, or is knocked out completely. Sometimes crowns come off of teeth. Lips, gums, or cheeks can be cut. Dental emergencies can be avoided by taking simple precautions, such as wearing a mouthguard during sports activities and avoiding hard foods that may crack or break your tooth.

Tooth Ache

Begin by cleaning around the sore tooth meticulously. Using warm salt water, rinse the mouth to displace any food trapped between teeth. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you use aspirin on the aching tooth or on the gum. In the event of facial swelling, apply a cold compress to the area. For temporary pain relief, acetaminophen is recommended. See a dentist as soon as possible.

Cut or Bitten Tongue, Lip or Cheek

Injuries inside the mouth include tears or cuts, puncture wounds, and lacerations to the cheek, lips, or tongue. The wound should be cleaned immediately with warm water, and the injured person should be taken directly to an oral surgeon for emergency care. If not, the patient should be taken to the hospital.

Ice can be applied to any bruised areas. For bleeding, apply firm (but gentle) pressure with sterile gauze or a clean cloth. If the bleeding does not stop with pressure or continues after 15 minutes, go to an emergency room.

Broken Braces and Wires

Remove a broken appliance only if it comes out easily. If it is lodged or painful to remove, cover any protruding edges with wax, cotton balls, gauze or chewing gum. DO NOT REMOVE any wire caught in the gums, cheek or tongue; see a dentist immediately. Emergency attention is usually not required for loose or broken appliances that cause no discomfort.

Broken Tooth

Rinse your mouth with warm water. Put an ice pack or cold compress over the facial area of the injury to reduce swelling. Recover any broken tooth fragments. Get immediate dental attention. Take Ibuprofen for pain.

Knocked Out Permanent Tooth

Recover the tooth, making sure to hold it by the crown (top) and not the root end. Rinse, but do not clean or handle the tooth more than necessary. Reinsert the tooth in the socket and hold it in place using a clean piece of gauze or cloth. If the tooth cannot be reinserted, carry it in a cup containing milk or saline solution (used for contacts) or place it in your mouth between the cheek and gum to keep it moist. Because time is essential, see a dentist immediately. It is important to see your dentist within an hour of when your tooth is knocked out for the best chance of the tooth surviving the trauma.

Other Emergency Conditions:

Possible Broken Jaw

In the event of jaw injury, tie the mouth closed with a towel, tie or handkerchief. Go immediately to an emergency room.

Bleeding After a Baby Tooth Falls Out

Fold a piece of gauze and place it (tightly) over the bleeding area. Bite down on the gauze for 15 minutes; if bleeding continues, see a dentist.

Cold or Canker Sores

Over-the-counter medications will usually provide temporary relief. If sores persist, visit your dentist.

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