Accidents & Injuries
At our offices, we understand that accidents happen! Knowing what to do when one occurs can mean the difference between saving your tooth or losing it! If you experience a dental emergency, it is important to visit your dentist as soon as possible. Here are a few quick tips on how to deal with the most common types of injuries we see:
Tooth Knocked Out
If you have a knocked out tooth contact our office immediately for urgent dental care. There is a very short window of time when knocked out teeth can be successfully re-implanted. In most cases, only permanent, adult teeth are re-implanted into the mouth and baby teeth are usually not replanted. The odds for successfully saving a tooth are much higher when the tooth can be returned to the socket within 1 hour after the injury. In the meantime, we recommend that you follow these steps until you can see a dentist:
- Do NOT touch the root of the tooth. Only touch the crown or and or chewing edge of the tooth.
- Do not scrub the tooth or remove any tissue that may still be attached. You may rinse the tooth with water, but do so very, very gently.
- Do NOT brush or clean the tooth with alcohol, peroxide or any kind of soap/disinfectant. Use ONLY warm water to rinse.
- If you can, gently put the clean tooth back into the socket from where it originally came to keep it moist. See a dentist immediately.
If you cannot put the tooth back into the socket, place the tooth in a container, wrap it in clean gauze or cloth and cover with a small amount of whole milk. If milk is not available, you can place the tooth in a cup of water with small pinch of salt. The tooth can also be carried between your lower lip and lower gum or under the tongue, allowing the saliva of the mouth to keep it moist. The goal of this tip is to keep the tooth from drying out, which will prevent a successful replant.
Apply a cold compress to any areas outside of the mouth that are experiencing swelling. Do not apply ice or cold compress directly to your gums or socket.
Rinse the mouth with warm salt water to clean it out (½ teaspoon of salt to 1 cup warm water). You may also gently use dental floss to remove any food caught between the teeth. You may take over the counter pain relievers, or apply a cold compress to any areas outside of the mouth that are swollen. Do not put aspirin or pain relievers directly on the aching tooth or gum tissues as this can cause the gums to burn, creating more discomfort. If the pain persists, visit your dentist.
Object Stuck Between Teeth
If you have an object stuck between your teeth, try to gently remove the object with floss but do not try to remove it with a sharp or pointed instrument. The poking around of the sharp object might be painful, or force the object deeper into your gums both of which can be painful and increase your chance for infection. If you cannot easily remove the obstruction, visit your dentist immediately.
Chipped or Broken Teeth
If you have a chipped, fractured or broken tooth, give us a call immediately. It can be difficult to gauge the severity of a fractured tooth, and not all broken teeth are sensitive to air or temperature changes. Pain and sensitivity are common indicators that a tooth is damaged, but are not always the most useful gauge for the level of damage or severity of an injury. If a broken tooth is not treated, more serious problems such as infection can develop. In the meantime, please follow these steps:
- Rinse your mouth with warm water.
- If there is any bleeding in your mouth as a result of a chipped tooth, use a piece of gauze to apply pressure to the area.
- If you can’t see a dentist the same day that your chipped/fractured tooth occurs, cover the chipped tooth with dental cement which is available at most drug stores and pharmacies. This can help to protect the remaining tooth until you can visit your dentist. You may also take over the counter pain medication to alleviate pain and swelling.
Bitten or Cut Cheek, Lip or Tongue
If you accidentally bite your tongue, lip or inside of your cheek you should gently clean the area with water. Apply a cold compress to the area outside of the mouth. If you experience excessive bleeding, or you are in severe pain you should visit the dentist or an emergency room immediately.
You can take precautions against swelling in your mouth by daily flossing and brushing, which will significantly reduce the amount of harmful bacteria on your teeth and below your gum line. However, most patients experience gum swelling at some point, either by injury or otherwise. Swelling can be a serious issue, and it should be treated as such. Swelling can be an indicator of a tooth abscess or gingivitis, and should be attended to as soon as possible.
To relieve some of the discomfort of swollen gums, we recommend rinsing your mouth with warm salt water (½ teaspoon of salt to 1 cup warm water). If the swelling and redness persists or starts to spread, contact your dentist immediately. Dentists can prescribe antibiotics and medications that will treat the pain and also help target the bacterial infection that is likely causing the swelling. It is important that your dentist examines your gum to identify the underlying cause of the irritation and swelling.