What to do in case of a dental emergency: Your child slides for that game-winning home run. You cheer as your heart swells with pride, only to realize that this cool move came at a price: your child’s front tooth. Or perhaps you’re on vacation, eating at your favorite restaurant, when you hear something crack, and a jolt of pain shoots down your jaw. A dental emergency can occur anytime, any place. What would you do if you lost a filling? Cracked a tooth? Here are a few first aid guidelines for the most common dental emergencies.
If your tooth is broken…
- Clean the area gently with warm water.
- Protect the tooth from exposure to germs, air, or liquid by covering it with a sterile gauze.
- Reduce swelling by applying a cold compress to the face.
- Seek dental treatment immediately.
If your tooth is knocked out …
- Immediately locate the tooth. Can’t find it? Check the mouth where it is missing to be sure the tooth hasn’t been shoved into the gums.
- Keep the tooth moist. The best way to do this is to place the tooth – if possible—back into its socket without touching the root.
- If the tooth cannot be placed back in its socket, then place it in your mouth between your cheek and gums. Another alternative is to place the tooth in milk.
- Seek dental treatment as soon as possible.
If your tooth is cracked…
- Clean the area by rinsing with warm water.
- Use a cold compress on your face to reduce swelling
- As always, consult a dentist immediately
If you have a severe toothache…
- Clean the area with a warm water rinse and use floss to ensure that nothing has lodged between your teeth.
- Use a warm compress to relieve pain.
- Do NOT put aspirin on your gum because it can burn the gum tissue.
- If you experience severe swelling and have difficulty swallowing, go to the nearest emergency room. Otherwise, contact your dentist and get an appointment as soon as possible.
It also helps to be prepared for a dentals emergency while you’re out-of-town. Keep an updated list of prescription medications, as well as any herbal remedies you’re taking. Be sure you know where local dentists are before you travel. If going to a foreign country – particularly one with limited access to dental care—have a plan in place.
Sources: American Dental Association. “Mouth Healthy: Dental Emergencies.” North Dakota Department of Health. “First Aid for Dental Emergencies.”