Dental Emergencies

Common Dental Injuries & What To Do

Whether it be a car accident, a fall during a walk, or sports injury, dental injuries occur in people of all ages at unexpected moments. As Christian Johnson DMD, our main goal when treating a dental emergency is to save the teeth that are at risk of being lost, reestablish its full function, and restore its normal cosmetic appearance. The difference between saving and losing a tooth often depends on taking immediate action after the accidental injury. Luckily, your La Plata & Waldorf dentist, Dr. Johnson, has compiled a list of common emergencies we’ve witnessed and our tips on what to do in these situations.

Accidental Chipped or Broken Tooth

If your teeth have been chipped or fractured or if they are loose/tender to the touch, this is considered a dental emergency. Following the accident, make sure to see your cosmetic dentist within 12 hours or, alternatively, the emergency room if you can’t reach your dentist. Keep in mind that your tooth is a living organism made up of live tissue, nerves, and dentin—because of this you have the possibility of reattaching the piece and saving your tooth!

For a broken tooth, be sure to recover any of the broken tooth fragments. Rinse the area with warm water and apply a cold compress over the facial area of the injury. It may be possible to reattach them to the crown with tooth-colored bonding material, so as soon as you have collected as many (or all) pieces of the affected tooth, please seek immediate dental attention. You’ll likely begin to feel a toothache following your injury. To temper the pain, begin meticulously cleaning around the sore tooth. Using warm salt water, rinse the mouth to displace any food trapped between teeth. If you have facial swelling, apply a cold compress to the area. If the pain persists for more than a day, please contact us.

Knocked Out Teeth

If a baby tooth has been knocked out and bleeding begins after the baby tooth falls out, fold a piece of gauze and place it (tightly) over the bleeding area. Bite down on the gauze for 15 minutes. If the bleeding continues, please see your emergency dentist. Do not try to place the baby tooth back into the space where it was—baby teeth coming out are a natural part of growth. If you try and press it back in, this can cause a disturbance with the adult tooth coming in, irritate the gum line, or in extreme cases, cause infection.

If a permanent tooth has been knocked out of its socket (avulsed), however, immediate attention is required. Remain calm and do the following in this situation:

  1. Recover the tooth – Try and find the tooth that was knocked out of its socket and gently clean it off with water. Rinse, but do not clean or handle the tooth more than necessary—if you have latex gloves in your emergency first aid kit, put them on while cleaning your tooth. Try not to touch the root portion of the tooth as, again, this is a living tissue. You don’t want to compromise this section and cause damage or infection.
  2. Place the tooth back into its socket - making sure to hold it by the crown (the “top” or the tooth not the root) and that it’s in the proper orientation, apply gentle pressure to the tooth and reinsert the tooth into the socket. Hold it in place for five minutes using a clean piece of gauze or cloth. If the tooth cannot be reinserted, carry it in a cup of milk or water.
  3. Visit a doctor or your dentist straightaway – Time is essential, so call your dentist immediately to make an emergency appointment. If you can’t see your dentist right away, visit the emergency room for assistance (be sure to ask whether a tetanus shot or booster is needed following this accident). Please keep in mind that if we can’t save the tooth, an implant treatment may be necessary but we’ll do everything in our power to save your tooth/teeth!

Soft-Tissue Dental & Oral Injuries

In addition to trauma to your teeth, dental injuries often involve damage to the gums, the tongue, the jaw, the cheek, and the inside of the mouth. Examples of this can range from cuts or accidental bitten tongue and cheeks inside your mouth to cold to canker sores caused by traumas to your mouth. When these soft-tissue injuries occur, it's best to take the following immediate action and then see a dentist as soon as possible:

  1. Clean the affected area - Wash and rinse the area with soap and water if possible or remove debris and foreign material by hand.
  2. Stop the oral bleeding - For bleeding, apply firm (but gentle) pressure with sterile gauze or a clean cloth.
  3. Inflammation - Ice can be applied to any bruised areas.
  4. Facial and oral pain - Over-the-counter medications will usually provide temporary relief.
  5. Seek medical assistance - If the sores persist, visit your dentist. If the bleeding does not stop with pressure or continues longer than 15 minutes, please go to the nearest emergency room. If you have controlled the bleeding, schedule an emergency appointment with Dr. Johnson following your at-home treatment.

Contact You La Plata & Waldorf Emergency Dentist, Today!

If you require additional information about handling a traumatic dental injury, don't hesitate to call the dental office at 301-645-3230. Our staff is trained to react under the pressure of emergencies and will calmly walk you through the steps of what you should do during your emergency. If you’ve suffered from a previous accident and didn’t take the proper measures of care at the time of the injury and would like to correct the cosmetic look of your teeth or replace some missing teeth, request an appointment with Dr. Johnson online today!