If you are having trouble breathing or swallowing from swelling, GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM IMMEDIATELY OR DIAL 911.
Adults: Over the counter analgesics such as Tylenol or ibuprofen are helpful tools as long as your general physician has cleared you to take them. Cold compresses and rinsing with warm salt water can aid in cases where mild swelling is present. Make yourself as comfortable as possible and see a dentist as soon as you are able. Do not put an aspirin directly on the tooth or tissue.
Children: Above directions apply to children as well. Children often don’t alert an adult that they are hurting until the pain is unbearable and may not be able to communicate where they are hurting. Children will usually have trouble eating and may try not to have their teeth brushed when a toothache is forming.
Prevention is key. Wearing a dental mouth guard while taking part in sports activities can avert or lessen the degree of injury. Common dental injuries seen due to sports are trauma to the lips or face, fractured teeth, avulsed or “knocked out” teeth.
Trauma to the Lip
Trauma to the lips or face varies in severity. Often swelling and bleeding occurs. This can be aided with cold compress or ice applied to the affected area with pressure to help stop the bleeding. If the lip has been split or cut in a way that might require stitches or sutures, get to the dentist or emergency room as soon as possible. Keep the area moist and apply cold to keep swelling down.
Fractured teeth come in many variations. It is always best to contact your dentist immediately. Take Ibuprofen if you are able for pain/swelling and apply cold to reduce swelling if applicable. Anytime a tooth has had trauma or taken an impact you should always take care not to injure the area more by using that tooth while eating.
Minor fractures often do not require a restoration and can be smoothed by the dentist. If needed, a composite or tooth colored restoration can be placed to re-establish the look of the tooth.
Major fractures have damaged the tooth significantly and include damage to the pulp or nerve of the tooth. If the pulp recovers, usually a crown or veneer is required to restore the tooth. If the pulpal damage is irreversible, root canal therapy would need to be completed prior to restoration placement.
Acute fractures mean that the tooth has been severely damaged. This could mean that the tooth has a limited or questionable prognosis. Teeth can also be fractured in such a way that makes their restoration impossible.
Knocked Out Teeth
Adult teeth that have been knocked out require very speedy action for optimal results. Reimplantation of the tooth is required as soon as possible. Rinse the mouth with water to remove any foreign bodies and apply ice to reduce swelling. Find the tooth; touch only the crown of the tooth; do not touch the root. If the tooth is covered in debris, do not wash or scrub it in water. This will damage the fragile cells on the root that are required for the tooth to attach to the bone. Saliva is the best liquid to wash the tooth off with. If you are able, replant the tooth at that moment. If not, the best place for the tooth to be placed while waiting for reimplantation is in the injured person’s mouth. If this isn’t safe or possible, have the person spit into a cup and place the tooth in the saliva. If that isn’t possible, saline solution or milk are the next best replacements. Get to a dentist as soon as possible. Remember, the longer the tooth is out of the mouth, the more difficult it is to save the tooth.
Once the tooth has been replanted, the dentist will often stabilize it by splinting it to the adjacent teeth. The tooth will be observed for any changes and may possibly need root canal therapy in the future.
“Baby” or primary teeth that have been knocked out do not require reimplantation. Do not try to put the tooth back in the socket. You can damage the adult tooth forming beneath where the baby tooth was. See your dentist as soon as possible as the area might require a space maintainer to insure the eruption of the adult tooth correctly. A loose baby tooth is a common occurrence when adult teeth are growing in. Have the child wiggle the tooth out before it becomes so loose it is painful for the child to eat.