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Accidents happen but teeth don't have to suffer

Accidents may be a fact of life, but there are simple precautions you can take to avoid accidents and injuries to your teeth.

The American Dental Association recommends wearing a mouthguard when participating in sports or recreational activities that may pose a risk to your teeth, lips, cheeks or gums. In addition, avoid chewing ice, popcorn kernels and hard candy - all of which could crack a tooth.

Some more tips from the ADA on dealing with dental emergencies:

  • Bitten lip or tongue - Clean the area gently with a cloth and apply cold compresses to reduce any swelling. If the bleeding doesn't stop, go to a hospital emergency room immediately.
  • Broken tooth - Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area. Use cold compresses on the area to keep any swelling down. Call your dentist immediately.
  • Jaw (possibly broken) - Apply cold compresses to control swelling. Go to your dentist or a hospital emergency department immediately.
  • Knocked-out tooth - Hold the tooth by the crown and rinse off the root of the tooth in water if it's dirty. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If possible, gently insert and hold the tooth in its socket. If that isn't possible, put the tooth in a cup of milk and get to the dentist as quickly as possible. Remember to take the tooth with you!
  • Objects caught between teeth - Try to gently remove the object with dental floss; avoid cutting the gums. Never use a sharp instrument to remove any object that is stuck between your teeth. If you can't dislodge the object using dental floss, contact your dentist.

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

05/19/2005

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