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Your Oral Health

Handling Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies may be categorized as toothaches, injuries, or broken retainers or dentures.


If a toothache develops, clean the painful area using a brush and floss. Rinse with warm salt water. Do not place an aspirin on the gums or tooth as this may cause a burn. Apply a cold compress to any facial swelling. Take acetaminophen (for example Tylenol®) and call your dentist as soon as possible.

If a permanent tooth is knocked completely out, time is of the essence. Immediately call your dentist for an emergency appointment. 

Lost (Avulsed) Tooth

If a permanent tooth is knocked completely out, time is of the essence. Immediately call your dentist for an emergency appointment. It is critical to get the person and their tooth to the dental office within one half hour. This makes it possible to re-implant the tooth with a high degree of success. If possible, gently place the tooth back in its socket as a means of transport. Otherwise, transport it in a cup of milk, salt water, or saliva. If none of these are available, use a cup of plain water. You may also place the tooth between the cheek and gum (unless the child is too young).

Loosened (Extruded) Teeth

If a tooth is pushed either inward or outward, try to reposition it using very little pressure. Do not force the tooth into its socket. Try to get the injured person to a dentist as soon as possible. The tooth may be stabilized and held in place with a moist tissue or gauze on the way.

Broken (Fractured) Teeth

First rinse the mouth with warm water to keep it clean. Immediate dental care is necessary. The treatment will depend on the severity of the fracture and could range from smoothing out the chip to bonding with a tooth colored resin material, to placing a crown or cap of the tooth. If there has been pulp (nerve) injury, a root canal may be necessary as well.

Soft Tissue Injury

The tongue, lips, or cheeks may be bitten, cut, or punctured. If there is bleeding, apply firm pressure with gauze or a clean cloth. If bleeding doesn't stop within 15 minutes, contact your dentist immediately. Stitches may be necessary. Otherwise, clean the area with either warm water on gauze or a clean cloth. Apply an ice compress to the bruised or swollen area and contact your dentist for further instructions.

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