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Dental Emergency Procedures Can Help Save a Tooth

  • Handling a dental emergency can be tricky when you or a loved one is in pain, but a quick and appropriate reaction can help save a tooth in danger. The American Dental Association recommends that you become familiar with these dental emergency procedures just in case you ever have a dental emergency.
  • If a tooth is knocked out, hold the tooth by the crown and rinse the root in water if it's dirty. Do NOT scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If you can, gently place the tooth back in its socket or store it in a cup of milk and head for the dentist (with the tooth) immediately.
  • If you break a tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water to keep the area clean and apply cold compresses on your face to reduce swelling. Go to the dentist immediately.
  • Treat a bitten tongue or lip by cleaning gently with a cloth and applying cold compresses to reduce swelling. If bleeding is heavy or doesn't stop after a short time, seek immediate treatment from your dentist or emergency room.
  • If a toothache is getting you down, rinse your mouth with warm water, gently floss to remove food that may be trapped around it and see your dentist as soon as possible. Do NOT apply aspirin to the tooth or gum tissues.
  • A jaw injury or possible fracture needs immediate attention at your dentist's office or the emergency room. Apply cold compresses on the way to reduce swelling.
  • If a loose or broken wire from your braces is irritating your mouth, cover the wire end with a small cotton ball, beeswax or a piece of gauze until you can get to the dentist. Seek immediate treatment if a wire gets stuck in the cheek, tongue or gum tissue, but don't try to pull it out yourself.
  • If you have a dental emergency while you are traveling, check the yellow pages under "dentist" for the number of the state or local dental society; the society will be able to refer you to a nearby dentist. Or, visit the local emergency room and ask for a dentist referral. If you are abroad, contact the U.S. Embassy or hotel personnel for a dentist referral.

For more information on dental emergency care, visit the ADA.org website.

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