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How to Handle Common Dental Emergencies - Delta Dental of

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How to Handle Common Dental Emergencies
From a toothache to a broken jaw, you can take steps to lessen the damage while you seek treatment.
When it comes to a toothache, don’t fall for old
wives’ tales about aspirin and whiskey. Aspirin is
acidic.1 If you don’t swallow it and instead let it
dissolve against your gum to try for faster relief, it
might burn your gum tissue.2
So what should you do for dental emergencies
ranging from a toothache to a broken tooth to
a possible broken jaw? For starters, if you have
pain or swelling, you can take an over-the-counter
painkiller, such as ibuprofen. Avoid aspirin: If
you are bleeding, aspirin can make the blood
flow more freely. If you are bleeding from a cut
or a knocked-out tooth, apply pressure with your
hands or a cloth to staunch the flow of blood.3
Here’s more advice on what you should do in case
of dental emergencies.
A Possible Broken Jaw
If you have a broken jaw, you will usually feel pain
and have facial swelling. Other possible symptoms
include jaw stiffness, bleeding from the mouth
and an abnormal appearance of the cheek or jaw.
You might also have loose or damaged teeth,
and it will probably be difficult to open
your mouth widely.4
To control the swelling,
apply cold compresses,2
such as ice packs, bags
of ice or even a package
of frozen vegetables.
Stabilize the jaw using a
small towel wrapped
beneath the jaw and
tied on top of the
head.4 Go at once
to your dentist
or hospital
A Bitten Lip or Tongue
Clean the area gently with a cloth. Apply pressure
and cold compresses, such as ice or popsicles, to
stop the bleeding and reduce swelling. Go to a
hospital emergency room if the bleeding doesn’t
Chipped or Broken Teeth
Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the
area, use cold compresses and call your dentist
immediately.2 If possible, bring the broken piece
of your tooth to your dentist’s office. If it is large
enough, your dentist might be able to bond it to
the original tooth.3,6
A Knocked-Out Tooth
The American Dental Association advises holding
the tooth by the crown and rinsing off the root
of the tooth in water if it is dirty. Don’t scrub it
or remove any attached tissue fragments.2 If it is
not too painful, gently insert and hold the tooth
in its socket. Otherwise, to keep the tooth and its
root tissues moist, put it in
a container of milk or
saliva while getting to
a dentist as quickly
as you can.2,6 You can also carry it between your
lower lip and lower gum if you don’t have a
Objects Caught Between Teeth
Gently try to move the object with dental floss, but
avoid cutting your gums. Never use a sharp object
to dislodge something stuck between your teeth. If
dental floss doesn’t work, contact your dentist.2
A Toothache
Rinse your mouth with warm water and gently use
dental floss or an interdental cleaner to make sure
there is no food or other debris caught between
your teeth.2 Toothaches are usually the result of
either tooth decay or an infection. Appropriate
treatment could include antibiotics and dental
restoration, so call your dentist if the pain
1 “Aspirin.” National Library of Medicine, August 1, 2007.
druginfo/medmaster/a682878.html. Accessed 2008.
2 “Dental Emergencies & Injuries.” American Dental Association.
manage/emergencies.asp. Accessed 2008.
3 “Dental Emergencies.”Academy oif General Dentistry.
Accessed 2008.
4 “Jaw—Broken or Dislocated.” National Library of Medicine, May 15, 2008. www.nlm.nih.
gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000019.htm. Accessed 2008.
5 “Toothaches.” National Library of Medicine, May 28, 2008.
medlineplus/ency/article/003067.htm. Accessed 2008.
6 “Broken or Knocked Out Tooth.” National Library of Medicine, May 28, 2008. www.nlm.nih.
gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000058.htm. Accessed 2008.
The views represented by this article are that of the author and not of Delta Dental.
This article is provided for information only. Please consult with a
licensed dentist to discuss the best way for you to improve or
maintain your oral health.
In all cases, specific group contract
provisions, benefits, limitations and
exclusions take precedence over oral
health recommendations given here.
We recommend that you contact your
dental benefits carrier to determine
the specific limitations and
exclusions for your group.
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