Your teeth are meant to last a lifetime. They can, however, be vulnerable to nicks, chips and strains. To protect your teeth from damage and injury, take these precautions:
- Don’t chew ice, pens or pencils.
- Don’t use your teeth to open paper clips or otherwise function as tools.
- If you smoke a pipe, don’t bite down on the stem.
- If you grind your teeth at night, ask your dentist if you should be fitted for a bite plate to prevent tooth grinding.
- If you play contact sports like football or hockey, wear a protective mouth guard.
- Always wear a seat belt when riding in a car.
- Avoid sucking on lemons or chewing aspirin or vitamin C tablets. The acid wears away tooth enamel.
If a tooth does accidentally get knocked out, go to the dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist may be able to successfully put it back in. If this can be done within about a half an hour, there is a possibility that the interior pulp will survive. Even up to six hours, the outer tissue of the tooth may survive and allow successful re-attachment. There is little chance that the tooth can be put back in 24 hours after it has been knocked out. It is important to keep the tooth moist until you get to the dentist.
For a broken tooth:
- To reduce swelling, apply a cold compress to the area.
- Save any broken tooth fragments and take them to the dentist.
If your tooth has been knocked out:
- Rinse the tooth with clear water.
- If possible (and if you’re alert), gently put it back in the socket or hold it under your tongue.
- Otherwise, put the tooth in a glass of milk or a wet cloth.
- If the gum is bleeding, hold a gauze pad, a clean handkerchief or tissue tightly in place over the wound.
- Try to get to a dentist within 30 minutes of the accident.
Questions to Ask
Has one or more teeth been broken or knocked out?
[Note: See dentist as soon as possible. This is a dental emergency.]