Take These Steps if You Break a Tooth

Take These Steps if You Break a Tooth

A broken tooth is a dental emergency. And like all emergencies, a dental emergency requires swift action and clear thinking. Unfortunately, both can be hard to implement when you’re in the middle of a traumatic event. 

That’s why learning about dental emergencies ahead of time helps you handle them in the heat of the moment. 

Johnny L. Smith, DMD, at Westbrook Dental Center in Peoria, Arizona, wants you to be prepared for a dental emergency. If you break a tooth, here’s what you need to do.

Have someone call the dentist right away

If you have a broken or knocked-out tooth, have a friend or family member contact us immediately so we can fit you into our schedule. 

Collect and rinse the fractured pieces

If you can find one or more pieces of your broken tooth, gather them as quickly and carefully as possible. Rinse them in cool water only for a few seconds. Don’t use soap or scrub the tooth. If your tooth has completely come out, handle it by the crown (the top), not the roots.

If you get to our office in time, Dr. Smith might be able to reinsert your tooth or reconstruct it with the pieces. Be sure to handle the tooth or fragments correctly, as outlined below. 

Store the pieces in milk or saliva

If you have access to a small jar that you can fill with milk, put the tooth fragments in the jar and close it. Don’t store tooth fragments in water. If you don't have milk, spit it into the jar and put the pieces there. Or spit into plastic wrap and wrap the teeth in your saliva.

When all or most of the tooth’s been knocked out, you can try to insert the tooth back in its socket. Hold it in place by biting down on a damp piece of sterile gauze from a first aid kit.

Control bleeding with sterile gauze

If you have a sterile gauze pad, press it against your bleeding gums or bite down on it. Increase your chances of being prepared for a dental emergency by keeping an emergency first aid kit at home, in your car, and wherever you play sports.

Control pain while someone else drives

Just as it’s best to have someone else call us about your dental emergency so you can take care of your tooth, someone else should drive you to our office. You may be in pain and are probably distracted, so don’t attempt to drive unless you have no other choice.

Take over-the-counter painkillers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen if you're in pain. You can also apply a cool compress to your jaw or bite down on a cool, damp piece of gauze.

If you’ve broken or knocked out your tooth or have another dental emergency, contact our office immediately.

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