Dental emergencies, what you need to know and do

Stay calm and act quickly

  • Seek dental advice as soon as possible after the injury.
  • Seek medical advice if the person has been unconscious or has non dental cuts or fractures.

A tooth is knocked out

Permanent teeth

  • Pick the tooth up by the crown. Try not to touch the root.
  • If the tooth is dirty rinse it in milk or saline solution if available. If not, rinse briefly (only a few seconds) in water to remove dirt and debris.
  • If the person is conscious, hold the clean tooth by the crown and put it back into place using the other teeth as a guide. Use light pressure only.
  • Ask the patient to gently bite on a soft cloth to hold the tooth in place.
  • Seek immediate dental advice.
  • If you can't find the tooth, take the patient to a dental professional while others continue to search.
  • If found, put the tooth in milk (if possible) or seal in plastic wrap and take to the dental clinic immediately.

Remember every minute counts when trying to save a permanent tooth

Baby teeth

  • Do not put a baby tooth back into the mouth.
  • Most children under five years have baby teeth only.
  • If in doubt, place the tooth in milk and take it and your child to seek dental advice.

Do not

  • transport the tooth in water
  • scrape or scrub the root surface
  • allow the tooth to dry out
  • delay seeking dental treatment/advice.

Broken teeth

  • Place any broken pieces of tooth in milk. Don’t let the pieces dry out.
  • If milk is not available wrap in plastic wrap for transportation.
  • Seek dental advice as soon as possible.

Bitten lip or tongue

  • Apply direct pressure to the bleeding area with a clean cloth. If there is any swelling, apply a cold compress.
  • If bleeding continues seek dental or medical advice. 

Objects wedged between teeth

  • Try to gently remove wedged object with floss.
  • Do not use items like wooden toothpicks. They may break.
  • Seek dental advice if unsuccessful.

Orthodontic emergencies

If there are any lost, broken or loose bands, brackets, wires or ligatures, notify the orthodontist who will advise if the patient needs to be seen.

Telephone advice

If you have a dental concern during business hours, contact your local clinic. After hours, call Healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222 for advice on further
care options.

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