Dental Injury

Information on the proper first aid methods for treating a victim in the event of a knocked-out tooth, broken tooth or toothache.

In most cases, dental emergencies cause a great deal of pain. Knowing how to administer the proper first aid to a victim of a dental injury can provide much needed relief.

It is important to know that with a toothache the tooth becomes sensitive to both heat and cold. So, be sure any liquid or food intake is of a neutral temperature. To identify the tooth that is diseased, gently tap the area with a metal spoon handle or similar object. The tooth in question will cause pain to the victim when tapped.

To assist a person with a toothache, rinse the mouth with warm water to clean the area. Then use dental floss to remove any food that might be trapped between the teeth. If a cavity is suspected you can soak a small cotton ball in oil of cloves to help reduce pain. Keep the oil off gums, lips and the inside of the cheeks. You may also administer aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen to the victim to decrease pain. Then seek the expertise of a dentist to diagnose and treat the victim.

The most common dental injuries usually occur with children and/or during a sporting activity. Here are two lists containing the proper first aid to administer to a victim of a broken or knocked-out tooth.

If the victim has experienced a broken tooth¡K

- First, gently clean away any blood or dirt from the injured area using a sterile gauze pad or a clean cloth with warm water.

- If you happen to be in a remote area without quick access to a dentist you can make a temporary cap for the tooth. Using melted candlewax or paraffin mixed with a few strands of cotton would be best. However, you may substitute ski wax or sugarless chewing gum in place of candle wax. Once the wax is melted and begins to harden, mold and press a wad of the substance onto the tooth to act as a filling until a dentist can be contacted.

- To decrease swelling, apply an ice pack to the face in the area of the broken tooth.

- Should you suspect a fractured jaw, you can stabilize the jaw by wrapping a bandage under the chin, over the top of the victim¡¦s head, tying the bandage in place.

- Seek the medical attention of a dentist immediately.

To assist a victim of a knocked-out tooth there are several steps you can take to care for the victim and preserve the tooth for replacement. Just follow these simple steps:

- First have the victim rinse his or her mouth with clean water, then place a rolled gauze pad in the empty socket to control bleeding.

- Once the victim is taken care of find the tooth as soon as possible.

- Handle the tooth by the crown, not the root. This will help to minimize damage to the ligament fibers.

- The best place to store the tooth is back in its original socket. Attempt to replace the tooth using adjacent teeth as your guide. Push down on the tooth so the top is even with the other teeth. Have the victim bite down gently on gauze to hold the tooth in place while on root to the dentist.

- Take the victim and the tooth immediately to the dentist

A tooth can very often be successfully replaced if it has been reinserted properly into its socket within 30 minutes of the injury.

If you are unable to reinsert the tooth, never transport the tooth dry. The best liquid for transportation of less than one hour would in fact be the victims own saliva. The tooth can either be placed in the victim¡¦s mouth or in a small container of saliva. The latter form of transportation would be best if the victim were a child for fear the child would swallow the tooth.

There is also a product available called Save-a-Tooth TM, which you can add to your first-aid kit. The use of this product extends the viability of the tooth¡¦s ligament fibers for 6 to 12 hours until dental care can be accessed.

Finally, here is a list of ¡§NEVER'S¡¨ concerning dental emergencies to dispel any false information you may have previously received.


- Handle a knocked out tooth harshly or carelessly.

- Rinse the tooth unless you are reinserting it into the mouth immediately.

- Scrub or clean the tooth. This may result in removing tissue fragments needed for reinsertion.

- Put a knocked-out tooth in liquids or milk products for transportation. Only use the victim¡¦s saliva.

- Place the tooth in a dry or crushable container for transporting.

- Remove a partially extracted tooth. This could cause further damage and pain to the victim. Rather, push it back into place and see a dentist immediately who will stabilize the tooth.

- Place aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen directly on an aching tooth, gums or allow these substances to dissolve in the mouth. This action could result in a serious acid burn.

- Stick anything into an exposed cavity (other than the knocked out tooth) or a softened exposed root for any reason.

- Cover a cavity with cotton or other material if there is any form of pus discharge or any facial swelling.

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