Injury to the teeth or mouth can happen due to an accident or sports injury. Dental trauma may not always seem serious. But even minor injuries can cause infection or other problems. The key to saving your smile is getting help right away.
When to Go to the Emergency Room (ER)
Speed is crucial when it comes to most tooth trauma. The faster you're treated, the better the chances your tooth or teeth can be saved. Go to your dentist or the ER at once if:
You break one or more teeth.
You have one or more teeth knocked out (put the tooth in a glass of cold milk and bring it with you).
A cut on your lip or tongue won't stop bleeding.
Steps to Saving a Permanent Tooth
If a permanent tooth is knocked out:
Handle the tooth by the top, not the roots.
Keep the tooth in a glass of milk or saltwater (dissolve 1/4 teaspoon salt in 1 quart of water). This keeps the tooth from drying out.
Get medical help right away.
What to Expect in the ER
Your injury will be examined. If you've lost a tooth, a dentist may be able to replant it. For the best results, this is done within an hour after your injury. In some cases, a broken tooth can also be repaired. Cuts and abrasions may be treated with cold packs and dressings.
Once you're home, call your dentist right away if you:
Develop a fever over
Have drainage from around a repaired tooth.
Have pain that worsens after 24 hours.