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News > Are you prepared for a dental emergency?
Are you prepared for a dental emergency?

Posted 2/11/2008   Updated 2/11/2008 Email story   Print story


1st SODS

2/11/2008 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Thousands of dental emergencies take place every day. It's important to know what to do if a child breaks a tooth or has a tooth knocked out while playing outdoors, or if a bad toothache happens in the middle of the night and can't wait to see the dentist until the next day. Knowing how to handle these emergency situations can lessen the pain and save a tooth that might otherwise be lost.

Keep the dental office phone number and an emergency number where the dentist can be reached after hours with other emergency numbers, such as the family doctor, and fire and police departments. Call the dentist immediately for instructions on how to handle a dental emergency.

Here are some tips parents can use to help their children until they can be seen by a dentist.

Rinse the mouth with warm water to clean it out. Gently use dental floss or an interdental cleaner to remove any food or other debris that may be caught between the teeth. Never put aspirin or any other painkiller against the gums near the aching tooth. This could burn gum tissue. If the toothache persists, try to see the dentist. Don't rely on painkillers. They may temporarily relieve pain, but your dentist should evaluate the condition.

Knocked-out tooth
Always try to find the tooth. This may not be as easy as it seems if the injury took place on a playground, basketball court or while skateboarding, so try to stay calm. Hold the tooth by the crown and rinse the root in water if the tooth is dirty. Don't scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If possible, gently insert and hold the tooth in its socket while on the way to the dentist. If that's not possible, put the tooth in a cup of milk and bring it to the dentist. Time is critical for successful re-implantation, so try to get to the dentist immediately.

Broken tooth
Rinse the mouth with warm water to clean the area. Use cold compresses on the outside of the cheek to help reduce the swelling.

Tongue or lip bites or wounds
Clean the area gently with a clean cloth and apply cold compresses to reduce any swelling. If the bleeding can't be controlled, go to a hospital emergency room or clinic. It may be possible to reduce bleeding from the tongue by pulling it forward and using gauze to put pressure on the wound.

Objects caught between teeth
Try to gently remove the object with dental floss. Never use a sharp instrument to remove any object that is stuck between the teeth. If the object can't be dislodged with floss, contact the dentist.

Possible broken jaw
Apply cold compresses to control swelling. Get to the hospital emergency room immediately.

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