First aid for a damaged tooth
Accidents happen so it’s important to know what to do if you or someone else accidentally damages a tooth.
If you crack or chip a tooth it’s important to get to a dentist as soon as possible. If you can save any part of a tooth that has chipped off keep it in a container of milk or wrap it in plastic wrap and take it with you to the dentist. Do not put the tooth in ice or hot water.
If a baby tooth is knocked out there are a number of steps that can be taken to try and minimise the damage:
- To avoid damage or infection don’t try and put the tooth back into its socket but keep it moist in milk or wrap it in plastic wrap. Baby teeth are not usually re planted.
- See a dentist as soon as you can
- If there is any associated bleeding, apply pressure with a clean cloth directly to the area
If an adult tooth is knocked out, the most critical factor is saving the tooth in time. The steps below can assist in saving the tooth:
- Find the tooth. If the tooth is clean, place the tooth back in place immediately, being careful to avoid touching the root. Use the neighbouring teeth as a guide and ensure the tooth is repositioned facing the correct way. Bite down on a soft cloth to help hold the tooth in place and get to a dentist as soon as possible.
- If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse it in milk before placing the tooth back into the socket. If milk is not available, have the patient suck it clean, or very briefly rinse it in cold water before repositioning into the mouth. Again have the patient bite on a soft cloth and get to a dentist as soon as possible.
- If you are not able to place the tooth back into the socket place it in milk or wrap it in plastic wrap (do not store it in water) and take it with you to the dentist. Do not let the tooth dry out. Time is critical. Seek immediate care.