Healthy people, healthy planet

First Aid for Dental Emergencies

Things that need emergency dental and/or first aid care include:

  • Broken tooth
  • Knocked-out tooth
  • Fractured jaw
  • Abscess tooth (inflammation and/or infection in the bone and/or the tooth’s canals)
  • Toothache

Prevention

To protect your teeth:

  • Brush with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day.
  • Floss daily.
  • See your dentist for regular dental cleanings and check-ups.
  • Don’t chew ice, pens, or pencils.
  • Don’t use your teeth to open paper clips or 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 sorts 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.

Even when these preventive measures are taken, you may encounter toothaches and other dental
emergencies.

First Aid

First Aid for a toothache (until you get professional help):

  • To reduce pain, take aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen sodium. (Note: Do not give
    aspirin or any medication that has salicylates to anyone under age 19, unless a doctor tells you
    to.) Hold an ice pack on the jaw.
  • Never place a crushed aspirin on the tooth. Aspirin burns the gum and destroys tooth enamel.
  • Do not drink very hot or cold liquids.
  • Do not chew gum.
  • Avoid sweets, soft drinks and hot and spicy foods. (These can irritate cavities and increase
    pain.) It may be best not to eat at all until your see your dentist.
  • Gargle with warm salt water every hour.
  • For a cavity, pack it with a piece of sterile cotton soaked in oil of cloves (available at
    drugstores).
  • See a dentist even if the pain subsides.
Avatar Written by American Institute for Preventive Medicine