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Dental Emergencies – Fact Sheet

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Injuries to the mouth may include teeth that are knocked out, forced out of position (extruded), or broken (fractured.) Sometimes lips, gums or cheeks have cuts. Oral injuries are often painful, and should be treated by a dentist as soon as possible.

EVULSED TEETH

When a tooth is knocked out you should:

  • Attempt to find the tooth.
  • Immediately call your dentist for an emergency appointment.
  • Gently rinse, but do not scrub the tooth to remove dirt or debris.
  • Place the clean tooth in your mouth between the cheek and gum.
  • Do not attempt to replace the tooth into the socket. This could cause further damage.
  • Get to the dentist as soon as possible. If it is within a half hour of the injury, it may be possible to re-implant the tooth.
  • If it is not possible to store the tooth in the mouth of the injured person (e.g., a young child,) wrap the tooth in a clean cloth or gauze and immerse in milk.

EXTRUDED TEETH

If the tooth is pushed out of place (inward or outward,) it should be repositioned to its normal alignment with very light finger pressure. Do not force the tooth into the socket. Hold the tooth in place with a moist tissue or gauze. Again, it is vital that a dentist see the injured individual within 30 minutes.

FRACTURED TEETH

How a fractured tooth is treated will depend on how badly it is broken. Regardless of the damage, a dentist should always determine treatment within 30 minutes.

  • Minor Fracture – Minor fractures can be smoothed by your dentist with a sandpaper disc or simply left alone. Another option is to restore the tooth with a composite restoration. In either case, you should treat the tooth with care for several days.
  • Moderate Fracture – Moderate fractures include damage to the enamel, dentin and/or pulp. If the pulp is not permanently damaged, the tooth may be restored with a full permanent crown. If pulpal damage does occur, further dental treatment will be required.
  • Severe Fracture – Sever fractures often mean a traumatized tooth with a slim chance of recovery.

INJURIES TO THE SOFT TISSUES OF THE MOUTH

Injuries to the inside of the mouth include tears, puncture wounds and lacerations to the cheek, lips or tongue. The wound should be cleaned right away and the injured person taken to the emergency room for the necessary suturing and wound repair.

Bleeding from a tongue laceration can be reduced by pulling the tongue forward and using gauze to place pressure on the wound area.

Copyright 2001, California Dental Association, All Rights Reserved

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