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California Dental Association offers tips to avoid dental emergencies

Helpful information to handle injuries to teeth and mouth

August 04, 2022 20

Being at the peak of summer weather, parents and children often take advantage of the warm season by enjoying more recreational sports and outdoor activities, which can increase injury potential for the teeth and mouth. For safe oral health all year long and especially during this season, CDA is offering helpful tips to avoid oral injuries and dental emergencies.  

While enjoying popular summer activities and sports like skateboarding, soccer or football and to prevent dental accidents — including teeth that have been knocked out, broken or forced out of position — CDA suggests wearing a mouthguard.

“Accidents happen, but there are things you can do to help prevent them. Wearing a mouthguard will provide teeth good protection from injury,” said CDA President Ariane Terlet, DDS.

If a dental emergency does occur, CDA suggests the following tips for the best possible outcome.

If a tooth is knocked out, attempt to find the tooth and immediately call your dentist for an emergency appointment. Handle the tooth gently by the crown and be careful not to touch or damage its root. Try to put the tooth back into its socket right away or position it above the socket or in your mouth next to your check to keep it moist at all times. If needed, a tooth can be preserved in milk or with a preservation kit such as Save a Tooth.  

“If it’s within about 30 minutes of the injury, it may be possible to re-implant the tooth. And knowing what to do in a dental emergency can be the difference between losing a tooth and being able to save it,” Dr. Terlet said.

Should a tooth be pushed out of place, reposition it to its normal alignment with very light finger pressure. Do not force the tooth into the socket. Instead, hold the tooth in place with a moist tissue or gauze and get to your dentist as quickly as possible.

For a broken or fractured tooth, rinse the area with warm water and use cold compresses on the injury to keep swelling down.

“Treatment for a fractured tooth will depend on the severity of the fracture,” said Terlet. “Regardless of the damage, you should consult your dentist as soon as possible to determine appropriate treatment.”

For an injury to the soft tissues of the mouth, including the cheek, lips or tongue, clean the wound right away and get to the emergency room for necessary suturing and wound repair. Bleeding from a tongue laceration can be reduced by pulling the tongue forward and using gauze to place pressure on the wound area.

To keep teeth and gums healthy, CDA urges brushing two minutes, twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing regularly, avoiding sugary drinks and visiting a dentist for regular checkups to diagnose dental problems early when they are easier to treat. To help keep children free of dental pain, parents or caregivers should provide each family member with their own toothbrush, spoon, fork or cup; wipe infants’ gums twice a day with a washcloth; clean pacifiers and bottles with soap and water, not spit; put only water in a baby’s bottle at bedtime; and help children brush and floss until they have mastered the skill — usually around age 7.

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California Dental Team

California has a robust and highly trained dental workforce, with more than 35,000 dentists, 30,000 assistants and 18,000 hygienists licensed to provide dental care throughout the state.