Dental Emergency First-Aid

By Dr. Weston Heringer, JrTooth First aid

Dental emergencies, especially with children, can happen any time.  Listed below are the most common types of emergencies and what action to take following the emergency.   It is always better to be prepared!

  • TOOTHACHE Clean the area of the affected tooth thoroughly.  Do not place aspirin on gum tissue or aching tooth. If face is swollen, place cold compress to the outside of the cheek.  Contact a Dentist.
  • CUT OR BITTEN TONGUE, LIP OR CHEEK If there is bleeding apply firm but gentle pressure with a clean  cloth or gauze. If swelling is present, apply cold compresses. If bleeding doesn’t stop readily or bite is severe, contact a Dentist.
  • BROKEN TOOTH If center nerve of tooth is exposed or center shows pink color contact a Dentist immediately.  For comfort, the injured area may be covered with a moist warm cloth.  If edge or corner is broken seek care at your convenience.
  • KNOCKED OUT PERMANENT TOOTH   Time is critical, find the tooth.  Quickly rinse the tooth, if possible, and reinsert it in the socket.  Have the patient hold the tooth in place. A tooth that cannot be reinserted should be kept moist.  The patient must see a Dentist immediately.
  • KNOCKED OUT BABY TOOTH  Primary teeth are not reimplanted, if you have questions about the injury, contact a Dentist.
  • BLEEDING AFTER BABY TOOTH FALLS OUT  Have the child bite on a folded gauze placed over the bleeding area for 15 minutes.  If bleeding persists contact a Dentist.
  • BROKEN BRACES AND WIRES  If a broken appliance can be removed easily take it out.  If it cannot ,cut it off.  Cover the sharp or protruding portion with cotton , chewing gum or wax.  Loose or broken appliances do not usually require emergency attention.
  • POSSIBLE FRACTURED JAW If suspected, contact a Dentist immediately or take the  individual to Hospital Emergency Room.
  • COLD/CANKER SORE  Over-the-counter preparations often give relief. Stay away from salty or acidic foods.  If sores persists over two weeks contact a Dentist.

 Editors Note: Please consider this non clinical advice and always consult your dentist with any questions or concerns.

Dr Weston Heringer

Dr. Heringer is a retired pediatric dentist and has served on 19 overseas dental trips. He operated a private practice in Salem for 30 years with a satelite office in Lincoln City for 26 years. For the last two years of his career he was the full time dentists on the Tooth Taxi, a mobile dental van providing free care to children in Oregon. Dr. Heringer is a past president of the Oregon Dental Association and is a board member of the Dental Foundation of Oregon.



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