Dr. James P. Lee, D.D.S., P.C.
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Many of us at one time or another confront a minor dental emergency such as a children's knocked out tooth or a bitten lip or tongue. Common sense and staying calm should get you through most of these kinds of dental emergencies. If you experience any of these symptoms or any other ones that impair your normal activities seek professional help as soon as possible. Here are some other tips:
Rinse your mouth out with warm water to clean out any debris or foreign matter. Gently use dental floss or an inter-dental cleaner to ensure that there is no food or other debris caught between your teeth.
Some people try placing an aspirin or other kind of pain killer on a painful tooth, but this is not a sound practice. These kinds of substances can actually burn your gum tissue.
Broken, fractured, displaced tooth
For a broken tooth, rinse your mouth out with warm water to clean out any debris or foreign matter. Use a cold compress on your cheek or gum near the affected area to keep any swelling down. Call your dentist immediately.
If a tooth is fractured, rinse mouth with warm water and use an ice pack or cold compress to reduce swelling. Use ibuprofen, not aspirin, for pain. Immediately contact your dentist.
Minor fractures can be smoothed by the dentist with a sandpaper disc or simply left alone. Another option is to restore the tooth with a composite restoration. In either case, treat the tooth with care for several days.
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 pulp damage does occur, further dental treatment will be required.
Severe fractures often mean a traumatized tooth with a slim chance of recovery.
Quick action can save a knocked out tooth, prevent infection, and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling. Retrieve the tooth by the crown ? not by the root. If you are unable to replace the tooth easily in its socket, place it in a container with a lid filled with low-fat milk, saline solution, or saliva. Visit the dentist or the emergency room as soon as possible.
If your baby's tooth is knocked out, see your dentist, who may recommend a space maintainer to reserve the gap until the permanent tooth comes in. In instances where a primary tooth is loose because of the emergence of a permanent tooth, have the child wiggle the tooth or eat something hard, such as an apple to help it along. Once the shell of the tooth is disconnected from the root, the discomfort in extracting a loose primary tooth is minimal.
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, many sports-related emergencies involving teeth can be avoided by following the rules and remembering dental first aid steps.
Common swimming pool accidents occur when children, swimming underwater, quickly ascend to the surface, hitting the hard ledge, and loosening the front tooth. Running on slippery, slick cement and ceramic pool surfaces also can send your child headfirst into the ground, increasing the likelihood of a chipped or loose tooth.
Bitten lip or tongue
Clean the area gently with a cloth and apply cold compresses or ice to reduce swelling. If the bleeding doesn't stop, go to a hospital emergency room immediately.
Trapped debris, objects between teeth
Try gently removing the debris with dental floss. Be careful not to cut your gums. Never use a sharp instrument such as a needle or pin to remove any object that is stuck between your teeth. If you can't dislodge the object using dental floss, contact your dentist.