When a tooth gets knocked out
Accidents are a part of everyday life in our active society. Every year people have teeth becoming dislodged or knocked out. We have compiled this information so that you can be prepared in advance. You need to be able to prepare the injured area for treatment so that any long-term damage can be minimized. The first thing you need to do is act quickly while trying to stay as calm as possible.
For adults this is what you need to quickly do:
1. Immediately search for the tooth. When you find it touch the crown only. This is the top part of the tooth that resides above the gum, the part you see. Avoid touching the root.
2. Examine the tooth to make sure it’s clean. If the patient is conscious and can be kept calm, they need to gently suck the dirt and debris off the tooth. If not, the tooth can be rinsed in milk or very quickly, in water.
3. The tooth should then be immediately replanted back into the socket, but you need to make sure that it is facing the correct way around. In this situation time is of the essence and replacing the tooth immediately is best, but ideally this should not be put off any longer than 30 minutes.
4. The tooth needs to be held in place. You may use aluminium foil to help it stay in place, or using a small soft cloth like gauze, the patient can gently bite down on it.
5. If you cannot successfully replant the tooth, it must be kept moist in a container of milk. If that isn’t possible, seal the tooth in plastic wrap or if the patient is conscious and able to cooperate, place the tooth inside the mouth, having it rest next to their cheek.
6. See a dentist immediately as time is critical if you are to save this tooth.
Remember these important points:
• Do not touch the surface of the root or hold the tooth by the root.
• Do not rub or scrape anything off the root surface.
• Do not allow the tooth to dry out.
• Do not rinse or keep the tooth in water over 1 or 2 seconds.
• Do not place the tooth in ice water or ice.
• Do not remove or wipe off any gum fragments or tissue from the tooth.
If the patient is a child this is what you need to do:
If a baby tooth (deciduous or milk) is accidentally knocked out the situation is different.
DO NOT try to place it back into the socket. If a baby tooth is knocked out and re- implanted into the socket, this can very well damage the developing adult tooth inside.
Immediately see a dentist so that the injured lips and gum area can be treated.
Treating bitten cheeks or lips
While eating it is very easy to bite the inside of your cheek or even your lip. It can also happen in an accidental fall. As a result the bite may get sore, swell up and become infected.
The cheek or lip can also be bitten after receiving a local anaesthetic for a dental procedure. If the cheek area or lip that has been numbed is sucked, rubbed or bitten, it can easily become damaged without the person even knowing it.
A bitten cheek or lip can resemble a chemical burn and this can easily be mistakenly diagnosed and improperly treated.
In order to prevent an infection a bitten cheek or lip should immediately be rinsed with warm saltwater.
Spoon ½ teaspoon of salt into a cup of slightly warm, not hot, water and swirl around the injured area. If an infection does take hold, see a dentist for treatment.
Treatment For chipped teeth, cracks and fractures
In the event of a chipped, cracked or fractured tooth see a dentist as soon as you can, even if the chip or fracture is barely noticeable and there isn’t any trauma, soft tissue damage or pain. Just get in to see a dentist promptly.
If there is more extensive damage to the tooth, examine it closely to see if you see anything “pink” because this would indicate that there is an exposed nerve. If you do see an exposed nerve, see a dentist immediately.
If there is a delay in dental treatment the tooth may not be able to be saved.
Treatment For an abscess with swelling
A dental abscess is a pus-filled swelling resulting from an infected tooth, a trauma to a tooth or gum.
An abscess is usually painful, but sometimes not. An abscess may result in enlarged lymph glands or facial swelling. T
here have been cases, although rare, when a dental abscess has caused a widespread infection and been very serious. It is even possible for an abscess to be life threatening.
This is what you need to do:
1. If you see facial swelling visit a dentist or doctor immediately.
2. Over-the-counter pain medication can be taken to alleviate moderate pain. Just take as directed.
3. No medication should be applied on the abscess itself.
4. Cold compresses can be used to control the swelling.
5. Your doctor or dentist may write a prescription for an antibiotic to reduce the infection, but the antibiotic can never cure the infection at the source.
6. You must see a dentist immediately as this will not heal on its own even if you are on antibiotics. The infection will not go away until the source of the problem is found and resolved once and for all.
For trauma to soft tissue with bleeding
If there is trauma to your gums, lip or cheek take the following steps:
1. Take a clean cloth or bandage and apply it firmly to the wound with pressure.
2. Remain seated for 10 minutes at least, maintaining the pressure (without lying down).
3. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, see a doctor immediately.
4. Use cold compresses to relieve pain and swelling.
5. See a doctor or dentist as soon as possible.
6. To reduce your risk of infection, rinse your mouth with warm saltwater until your wound has healed. Again, mix ½ teaspoon of salt into a cup of slightly warm, not hot, water.
Treatment for jaw pain
If you find that eating or even opening your mouth is difficult because of jaw pain, or you have pain in your jaw when you awaken, see a doctor or dentist to determine the cause of the pain.
In the meantime you can take anti-inflammatory medication and apply cold compresses to alleviate the jaw pain.