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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 an injury to soft tissues, such as your tongue, cheeks, gums, or lips. Severe injuries can expose the soft pulp inside the tooth.

Common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • A tooth that is cracked, chipped, loose, out of place, or missing
  • A sharp or rough edge on your tooth
  • Bleeding from your gums, lips, face, or mouth
  • Trouble moving your jaw or mouth
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have trouble breathing.

Seek care 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.


will depend on the type of dental trauma you have. A tooth that moves slightly may heal on its own. You may also need any of the following:

  • Medicine may be given to decrease pain or prevent an infection. You may need a tetanus shot to prevent bacteria from getting into your wound. This may be needed if you have cut your mouth or gums on metal.
  • Stitches may be needed to close a wound in your mouth.
  • Surgery may be needed to repair your tooth or broken bones in your jaw.

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.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 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 CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

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.

Learn more about Acute Dental Trauma (Ambulatory Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.