Dental Emergency Guidelines

Posted on Oct 11, 2013 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

I love sports, especially contact sports such as football, soccer and rugby, although I’m at the age where I am mostly a spectator rather than player. An unfortunate result of those who play these sports, however, are lip cuts and knocked-out teeth.

Replacing a lost tooth or repairing ripped oral tissues on both adolescents and adults is not a ‘win’ by anyone’s standards! This can be prevented, in most cases, by wearing a mouth guard. When mishaps do happen, however, the following tips may help lessen the damage:

CUT OR BITTEN TONGUE, LIP OR CHEEK – Apply cold compress to bruised areas. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a clean gauze or cloth. Arrange to be seen in our office for possible repairs. If bleeding does not stop within 15 minutes or cannot be controlled by simple pressure, go directly to a hospital emergency room.

KNOCKED OUT PERMANENT TOOTH – Handle the tooth by the top portion rather than the root. Rinse the tooth, but do not clean or handle the tooth unnecessarily. Try to reinsert the tooth into the socket and have the child hold the tooth in place by biting on a clean gauze or cloth. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place the tooth in a cup of milk or water and call your dentist or us immediately. Time is a critical factor in saving a tooth.

BROKEN TOOTH – Rinse dirt from injured area with warm water. Place cold compresses over the area of the injury. Save any broken tooth fragments and call your dentist immediately.

POSSIBLE BROKEN JAW – If a fractured jaw is suspected, use a tie, towel or handkerchief to tie underneath the chin and over the top of the head. This will help to keep the jaws from moving. Go to the nearest emergency room.

BROKEN BRACES & WIRES – Fortunately, most loose or broken appliances do not require emergency room attention. If the appliance can be removed easily, take it out. If not, cover sharp or protruding portions with cotton balls, gauze, or chewing gum. If a wire is stuck in the gums, cheek, or tongue, do not remove it. Take the child to the orthodontist immediately.

TOOTHACHE – Clean the area around the sore tooth thoroughly. Rinse the mouth thoroughly with warm, salt water or use dental floss to gently dislodge trapped food or debris. If the face is swollen, apply a cold compress. Take acetaminophen for pain and call your dentist to be seen as soon as possible. Do not place aspirin on the gum or the aching tooth.

Please remember that custom-fitted mouthguards are more comfortable and have a better fit than the boil-&-bite versions. This means you or your child are more likely to wear it! Play safe!

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