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Acute Dental Trauma


Acute dental trauma is a serious injury to one or more parts of your mouth. Your injury may include damage to any of your teeth, the tooth socket, the tooth root, or your jaw. You can also have injuries to the soft tissues of your mouth. These include your tongue, cheeks, gums, and lips. Severe injuries can expose the soft pulp inside the tooth.


Follow up with your healthcare provider within 24 hours:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Pain medicine: You may be given medicine to take away or decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine will help fight or prevent an infection. Take your antibiotics until they are gone, even if you feel better.

  • Mouthwash: Your healthcare provider may want you to use a germ-killing mouth wash 2 to 3 times a day. This will help decrease swelling and prevent infection.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.


  • Apply ice to decrease pain and swelling. Use a cold pack or put crushed ice in a bag, cover with a towel, and place on your jaw.

  • Avoid using your damaged tooth. Chewing food on your damaged tooth may put too much pressure and worsen your injury. Eat soft foods or drink liquids while your mouth heals.

  • Keep your wounds clean. Gargle with a salt water solution. Mix 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 cup of warm water. You can also clean your wounds with hydrogen peroxide swabs. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on how to clean your wounds.

  • Wear protective gear when playing sports. Always use a helmet and mouth guard that meet safety standards.

  • Visit your dentist regularly. Visit your dentist regularly to protect your teeth from oral cavities.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.

  • You have new symptoms, or your symptoms become worse.

  • You feel pain when air gets in contact with your damaged tooth.

  • You have tooth pain when you eat foods that are hot, cold, sweet, or sour.

  • Your tooth's color becomes darker.

  • You have questions or concern about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You lose one or more of your teeth, or your tooth moves out of place.

  • You have severe bleeding in your mouth that does not stop.

  • You have trouble breathing.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.