dental first aid tips - savina dental clinics malta and gozo

Whether it is a toothache, a broken tooth, broken jaw, knocked out tooth, or unexpected bleeding, knowing how to handle dental emergencies can save you precious time and prevent serious problems. The following are helpful dental first aid tips to help you successfully navigate certain dental problems.

Toothache

Often, certain patients may decide to try to treat toothache by applying painkillers such as aspirin or paracetamol on the gum next to the painful tooth. This itself can be harmful as it can create a chemical burn on the gum, causing even more pain. Instead, you should clean your mouth and rinse it thoroughly with warm water. Gently floss around the tooth to remove any food particles that may be caught in between. If the pain persists, take paracetamol or another mild analgesic, and call your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist will identify the problem behind the pain and treat it.

Broken Tooth

When your tooth breaks due to trauma, save any pieces you can find and rinse them with clean water or saline. Rinse your mouth with warm water and apply a bit of gauze to the bleeding area for ten minutes or until it stops bleeding. Apply a cold compress to the nearby lip, cheek, or outside the mouth to prevent swelling and provide pain relief. Then, call and see your dentist as soon as possible.

Possible Broken Jaw

The best way to handle a broken jaw is to apply a cold compress to the affected area to reduce swelling and pain. Due to the seriousness of the injury, don’t hesitate to check into a nearby hospital’s emergency room or to see your dentist immediately.

Knocked-Out Teeth

In case of a knocked-out tooth, retrieve and rinse it gently to clean it without scrubbing it or removing tissue attached to it. As you clean the tooth, place a washcloth or towel in the sink to prevent it from going down the drain.

If possible, gently place the tooth back into its socket. Otherwise, place it in milk and immediately see your dentist. If the tooth isn’t contaminated, place it between your cheek and the lower gum to transport it. You need to see a dentist within one hour of the accident to increase the chances of your tooth being saved.

Bitten Tongue or Lip

A bitten tongue or lip represent some soft-tissue injuries that can cause bleeding. Therefore, your primary focus should be controlling bleeding by rinsing the mouth with a mild saline solution.

Using a moistened tea bag or piece of gauze, apply pressure to the bleeding area and hold for 20 minutes or until bleeding stops. Apply a cold compress on the outer side of your cheek for about 10 minutes. If you can’t stop the bleeding, check into a hospital emergency room or see your dentist immediately.

Something Caught Between Your Teeth

dental floss

When objects get caught between your teeth, try to remove them gently and carefully using dental floss. If the object doesn’t come out, contact your dentist immediately. Never use a sharp object such as a pin to remove the object. Sharp objects can puncture and cut your gums or scratch the surface of your teeth, causing further issues.

Bleeding from Tooth Socket

Treat bleeding from the tooth socket like any other bleeding. Take an unused tea bag, gauze or cotton wool and apply biting pressure to the bleeding area. Avoid taking aspirin as it could increase the bleeding. If the bleeding persists, consult your dentist.

Loose Tooth

Unless your child is particularly uncomfortable, loose baby teeth are not a cause for concern as these normally fall out on their own. Loose permanent teeth, on the other hand, can lead to discomfort when eating, sensitivity and infection, among other problems. They are usually the result of gum disease or other issues and therefore you should ideally be examined by your dentist to prevent further damage from occurring. Loose teeth often need to be removed before any hospital procedure that requires general anaesthesia as they may be dislodged during intubation. If your teeth loosen due to facial trauma, be sure to see a dentist as soon as possible.

Extruded Tooth

If your tooth gets partially dislodged, apply a cold compress to the cheek or outside of the mouth in the affected area. That will reduce pain and prevent the affected tissue from swelling. If the pain worsens, take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or paracetamol. Be sure to see a dentist immediately to get a permanent solution to the extruded tooth.

Soft-Tissue Injuries

Soft-tissue injuries to the gums or cheeks can resulting in bleeding. One of the essential dental first aid tips is how to stop bleeding. Use a mild salt solution to rinse your mouth. Apply pressure to the bleeding area using an unused tea bag or piece of gauze for 15 to 20 minutes.

Further cold compress the cheek or outside of the mouth for up to 10 minutes to relieve pain and control bleeding. If you can’t control the bleeding, check into a hospital emergency room or see your dentist immediately.

Sores

Sores come from accidentally biting the insides of your cheeks, braces rubbing the inside of the mouth or other types of trauma. Use a cold compress against the affected area on the outside of the mouth to reduce pain. Clean your mouth and remove any food debris that may irritate the sores. You may also apply a topical gel containing a numbing agent to reduce pain, aloe vera to soothe the affected area or hyaluronic acid to help with healing.

Lost Crown

Some accidents may involve the crown if the tooth (the part of the tooth above gum level). In that case, you should arrange to see your dentist as soon as possible. If you can’t secure a dentist’s appointment immediately, apply a little clove oil to the sensitive area. If possible, secure it in your tooth’s inner surface with an over-the-counter denture adhesive or temporary filling material.

Lost Filling

If part or all of your tooth filling gets lost, you can use a piece of sugarfree chewing gum to block the cavity. However, do not sleep with this in place. Remember, using sugar-containing gum may result in more pain. Alternatively, you can apply over-the-counter dental temporary filling before seeing your dentist as soon as possible.

Loose Brackets and Bands

The most immediate dental first-aid measure, in this case, is to reattach the braces using some orthodontic wax temporarily if possible. Alternatively, you can create the required cushioning by applying wax over the braces. Arrange to see your orthodontist as soon as possible if you are very uncomfortable. If you have a loose bracket, keep it aside and book an appointment with your orthodontist to re-cement or replace it.

Broken Braces and Wires

If a wire is broken or sticking out of a band or bracket, it’s likely to poke your gum, cheek, or tongue and cause pain. Cover its end with orthodontic wax, a piece of gauze, or a small cotton ball until you get to see your orthodontist. Please do not cut the wire yourself as you can swallow the broken piece or cause damage to your braces.

Emergency Dental First Aid Kit

dental first aid kit

Effectively dealing with dental emergencies at home requires you to have a dental first aid kit. It can help you ease the pain and stop bleeding before seeing your dentist. You can make it part of your general medical first aid kit or buy it separately for dental purposes. What’s important is that you have what you need to handle dental emergencies in a more organized way.

What to Put in Your First Aid Kit?

Putting together a dental first aid kit requires knowledge of what you should include in it. Here are the must-have items in a dental first aid kit:

Gauze: You likely have gauze in your general medical first aid kit. If you don’t, then include it in your dental first aid kit. It comes in handy when you need to control bleeding due to soft-tissue injuries or hold the tongue when necessary.

Tea Bag: Like gauzes, tea bags can help stop bleeding, especially after a tooth loss. It has a better taste than gauze and contains tannins that restrict blood vessels from releasing blood.

Gloves: Even though they are likely available in your general medical kit, gloves are necessary when you can’t properly wash your hands. They keep things clean and prevent infections.

Dental Mirror: A dental mirror is the best way to see otherwise invisible parts of your mouth. You can use it to locate lodged pieces of food, and cracks, or chips in the teeth. With a lit dental mirror, your mouth is more visible. Alternatively, you can use a small flashlight.

Tweezers: Tweezers are useful in grabbing small things in the mouth, such as fallen-off restorations or debris. However, avoid using tweezers to dislodge things sticking between your teeth.

Floss: Dental floss is one of the most effective ways of removing things that become lodged between two teeth. It is the only way to remove solid items without causing further injury.

Temporary Dental Cement: With over-the-counter temporary dental cement, you can protect exposed parts of a tooth until you get treatment from an emergency dentist. It can also securely hold a dental crown or bridge that have come off.

Toothbrush: Having an extra toothbrush in your kit is always a wise decision. It can help you brush a tooth that has fallen out, keeping it clean until you can visit your dentist.

Dental Wax: Dental wax is effective in helping people with braces avoid soft-tissue irritation from wires and brackets. It can also stabilize damaged areas until a dentist can see you.

Small Container: A small container is necessary for holding tooth material in case of a lost or chipped tooth. The dentist shall evaluate the tooth materials and may use them to fix your teeth when possible. Keep the tooth material in water or milk, making it necessary for the container to have the ability to hold liquid.

Pain Management Options: Dental emergencies can cause pain, necessitating the stocking of several pain management options. Have some ibuprofen, acetophenazine, oral anaesthetic, or ice packs. Aspirin should not be used in situations where bleeding is present as it can worsen the bleeding.

What you do immediately when you get a dental issue determines how easily the dentist will restore your tooth. While some dental problems may end with simple first aid, others require a visit to the dentist as soon as possible. So, ensure you give a dental problem the attention it deserves to prevent further problems.

To book a dental consultation, please use our online appointment form or contact us directly on (+356) 2125 7253 (Skyparks Business Centre, Malta International Airport), or (+356) 2155 7323 (Dingli Street, Victoria, Gozo). For international patients, it is recommended to request a free e-consultation where we can discuss your individual case and treatment options.

Joseph Xuereb

Joseph Xuereb
Principal Dental Surgeon & Owner of Savina Dental Clinics, Dr Joseph Xuereb BChD (Hons), MFGDP(UK), MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP RCS(UK), FICD is a general dental practitioner with a special interest in Implant and Restorative Dentistry. Dr Joseph & the teams’ full biographical information can be found here.