Dental Emergencies: Know What to Do
Having a dental emergency can be scary. But knowing what to do may help relieve some of your anxiety. Here are some general guidelines to follow for common dental emergencies.
To deal with the pain of a toothache, try these tips:
Rinse your mouth with warm salt water.1,3
Take an over-the counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen.3
Gently rub your tooth and gum area with an antiseptic that contains benzocaine.3
Place a cold compress on your cheek to help reduce pain and swelling. Do not put heat or aspirin on the sore area.1,3
Make an appointment with your dental professional as soon as possible.3
A tooth trauma happens when a tooth gets chipped or knocked out. Here are some tips to consider:
If a child’s primary tooth gets knocked out, apply pressure to the area if there is bleeding.1 Call your child’s dental professional as soon as possible.2
If a permanent tooth gets knocked out, locate the tooth, if possible, and rinse it gently in cold water. Do not scrub it or remove any tissue pieces. If you are able, place the tooth back into the socket and hold it in place. If this cannot be done, place the tooth in a clean holder with milk, water, or saliva and go to your dental professional’s office or hospital emergency room right away. There is a chance that the tooth can be saved if treatment is immediate.1,2
For a broken or chipped tooth, rinse your mouth with cold water and put cold compresses on the area to help reduce swelling. Go to your dental professional’s office as soon as possible. If you can locate the piece of tooth, bring it with you. Immediate treatment can help prevent infection and may help save the tooth.2
Bitten Tongue or Lip
If you bite your tongue or lip, wash the area gently and place a cold compress on the area to reduce any swelling. If the area is bleeding and won’t stop, head to the nearest hospital emergency room.1
Prevent Dental Injuries
Here are some suggestions to help prevent dental injuries.
Wear a mouthguard during sports activities. Encourage your children and family members to do the same.2
Always use a seatbelt while driving or riding in a car. Place young children in a car seat.2
Childproof your home to help prevent falls and other injuries.2
Schedule regular dental visits for everyone in your family.2
1 “Dental Emergencies and Injuries.” American Dental Association. www.ada.org/370.aspx Accessed 2010.
2 “Emergency Care.” American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. www.aapd.org/publications/brochures/ecare.aspAccessed 2010.
3 “What Causes a Toothache?” Academy of General Dentistry, March 30, 2007. www.agd.org/support/articles/?ArtID=1362. Accessed 2010.