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Acute Dental Trauma
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
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 an injury to soft tissues, such as your tongue, cheeks, gums, or lips. Severe injuries can expose the soft pulp inside the tooth.
Call 911 for any of the following:
- You have trouble breathing.
Return to the emergency department immediately 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.
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.
You may need any of the following:
- Antibiotics help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.
- Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her 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.
Manage acute dental trauma:
- Apply ice on your jaw or cheek for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you apply it. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
- Do not use your damaged tooth. Chewing food on your damaged tooth may put too much pressure on it and worsen your injury.
- Eat soft foods or drink liquids for 1 week or as directed. Soft foods and liquids may be easier to eat until your injury heals. Soft foods include applesauce, pudding, mashed potatoes, gelatin, and ice cream.
- Care for your mouth while you heal. Use a soft toothbrush. Rinse your mouth as directed. Your healthcare provider may recommend a solution that contains chlorhexidine 0.1%. This solution will help prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Rinse 2 times each day, or as directed.
- Keep any soft tissue wounds clean. Use prescribed mouthwash as directed. You can also gargle with a salt water solution. To make the 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.
- Ask about sports. Your healthcare provider may tell you not to play contact sports such as football until you heal. Wear protective gear when you play sports. Always wear a helmet and mouth guard that meet safety standards. These will prevent damage to your gums, teeth, and the bones that support your mouth.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.