Emergency dental care for an accident
You or your child have just fallen or hit your teeth or mouth hard – it hurts, there’s blood, maybe even a tooth or a chip has come out. So what should you do for your dental emergency?
What to do in the case of a dental emergency, trauma or accident
Firstly, don’t panic and take a few deep breaths to calm yourself or your upset child. Clean up any blood and then assess the situation.
What you do next depends on whether the person with the injury is an adult or a child, and what has happened to the tooth or teeth involved in the trauma. Here is our dentist’s guide to what to do in an emergency…
Cracked tooth, chipped tooth or fracture tooth
Cracked or chipped baby tooth: often there isn’t much that can be done.
Remove any fractured pieces that can easily be removed, clean any dirt or debris with warm water and use paracetamol if needed.
Contact your dentist straight away. Your child may need to have the sharp edges smoothed out and gums checked for infection.
Fractured or cracked adult tooth: the consequences may be more serious. Cracked adult teeth can be painless or very painful depending on the severity of the crack, its proximity to the nerve and the presence of any infection.
Visit your dentist as soon as you can to assess the extent of the damage and discuss options and steps needed to prevent infection or tooth loss.
Displaced teeth – teeth that have moved
Displacement of baby teeth is very common. Reassure the child, clean any dirt or debris with warm water and provide paracetamol if needed and contact your dentist.
For an adult tooth that has shifted, moved or been displaced can have more serious consequences. Call your dentist and explain the situation, many dentists keep a number of free appointments in the day to deal with dental emergencies. Early action may help loss of the tooth or further complications.
Knocked out tooth – what to do
If an accident knocks out a tooth follow these steps quickly to minimise the chance of any long-term damage:
Knocked out baby tooth: don’t place the tooth back in the gum. Call your dentist as soon as possible to discuss the situation and next steps. If it is out of hours ….
Knocked out adult teeth:
- Find the tooth, make sure it’s clean and hold it by the crown only, not the root.
- Place the tooth back in position in the gum, making sure it’s facing the right way around.
- Get to your dentist straight away.
If you are unable to replant the tooth in the gum then transport it in milk or saliva. You can even keep it in your mouth, just be careful not to swallow it! Don’t place the tooth in a tissue or water.
Bitten lip or tongue
Whether it is a child or an adult who has bitten their lip or tongue, apply direct pressure to the bleeding area with a clean cloth. If swelling is present, apply a cold compress.
Contact your dentist for further instructions, however if the bleeding is very severe, go to hospital.
Toothaches from dental trauma
If you or your child develops a toothache following a dental emergency, book an appointment with your dentist straight away. In the meantime, rinse you or your child’s mouth with salt water, use paracetamol to alleviate pain and if there’s swelling present, use a cold compress. This doesn’t apply to babies who are teething.
Other dental emergencies
If you or your child’s braces or retainer becomes broken or bent in an accident, they shouldn’t wear it again until it’s been fitted or adjusted by their orthodontist.
Are you in pain or just had a dental injury?
After-hours emergency dental treatment is available through the Australian Dental Association Emergency Service on 08 8272 8111, which operates between 5pm-9pm weeknights and 9am-9pm Saturday, Sunday and public holidays.