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Mouth and Dental Injuries (cont.)

Check Your Symptoms

Home Treatment

First aid steps

If you need to see a doctor for your injury, call to arrange for your care and ask what steps to take in the meantime.

  • A tooth that has been completely knocked out. A permanent tooth can sometimes be put back into its socket (reimplanted). The best results occur if a dentist puts the tooth back in the socket within 30 minutes. Chances of successful reimplantation are unlikely after 2 hours.
  • Bleeding in the mouth. Return any skin flap to its normal position. If necessary, hold the flap in place with a clean cloth or gauze.
  • A tongue or piece of tongue that has been cut off. Wrap the piece of tongue in a clean cloth or sterile gauze, if available. Put the wrapped piece of tongue in a bag of ice to keep it cool. Do not put the tongue directly on the ice. Do not immerse the tongue in ice water. Go to the emergency room right away. Take the bag with you.
  • A broken tooth or dental appliance. Find any pieces of tooth or the broken dental appliance and take them with you when you go to see your dentist. Your dentist will want to check for missing pieces of tooth or dental appliance that may have been left in a wound, swallowed, or inhaled into the lungs (aspirated).

To reduce pain and promote healing

  • Apply a cold compress to the injured area, or suck on a piece of ice or a flavored ice pop, such as a Popsicle, as often as desired.
  • Rinse your wound with warm salt water immediately after meals. Saltwater rinses may promote healing. To make a saltwater solution for rinsing the mouth, mix 1 tsp (5 g) of salt to 1 cup (250 mL) of warm water.
  • Eat soft foods that are easy to swallow. Soft foods include:
    • Milk and dairy products, such as milk shakes, yogurt, custards, ice cream, sherbets, and cottage cheese.
    • Meat and meat substitutes, such as tender meats or chicken, tuna, eggs, and smooth peanut butter.
    • Fruits and vegetables, such as well-cooked or canned fruits and vegetables; well-ripened, easy-to-chew fruits; and baked, mashed, or well-cooked sweet potatoes.
  • Avoid foods that might sting, such as salty or spicy foods, citrus fruits or juices, and tomatoes.
  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • If a jagged tooth or orthodontic wire or bracket is poking you, roll a piece of melted candle wax or orthodontic wax and press it onto the part that is poking you. Use a pencil eraser to press a broken wire toward your teeth. These are only temporary measures to use until you can see your dentist or orthodontist to fix the problem.
  • Try a topical medicine, such as Orabase or Ulcerease, to reduce mouth pain.
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your pain:

Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

Safety tips
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Do not take more than the recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.

To protect a slightly loose tooth: Teeth that are slightly loose but still in their normal position should tighten up in 1 to 2 weeks.

  • Eat a diet of soft foods for 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Be gentle when you brush or floss.
  • Wear a mouth guard or face protection if you participate in sporting activities.

To remove objects or food stuck between teeth

  • Use dental flossClick here to see an illustration. to remove objects or food stuck between your teeth. Guide the floss carefully between your teeth and avoid "snapping" the floss, which can cut your gums.
  • Do not use anything sharp to remove an object that is stuck between your teeth or under your gums.

To remove a very loose baby tooth in a child

  • First, tilt your child's head forward and down so that when the tooth comes out, it doesn't fall to the back of the throat, causing your child to choke or swallow the tooth.
  • Grasp the tooth with gauze or a washcloth, and pull firmly with a twisting motion.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

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