Emergency first aid

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Updated: 1/14/2003 1:29 pm Published: 1/14/2003 1:29 pm

Dental emergencies can be confusing if you're not prepared. There are some simple steps you can take in the event that first aid is needed. The American Dental Association, or the ADA, (A-D-A) offers advice for common emergencies; however you'll need to contact a dentist immediately in all situations. If a tooth is knocked out, retrieve the tooth and rinse it in water. If possible, put the tooth back in its socket and bite down gently on gauze or a moistened tea bag to keep it in place. If you're unable to keep the tooth in your mouth, put it in a container with milk or water. Avoid touching the tooth by its root. If you break a tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water and apply cold compresses to your face to avoid swelling. If you have something caught between your teeth, you may be able to remove it with dental floss, never use sharp instruments in your mouth. If unsuccessful, contact a dentist. You can relieve but not cure a toothache by rinsing with warm water and using dental floss to remove any lodged food particles. Your dentist will need to know how long the tooth has hurt, what makes it hurt, and if you've taken anything for the pain. Although these are dental emergencies, don't be afraid to visit a hospital emergency room if you're unable to contact a dentist or are unsure of how to handle the situation. In addition, if you travel, carry your dentist's business card and your dental insurance information with you. Your dentist may be able to refer you for help in a strange city or you may contact the local ADA office for help.

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