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What should I do if I receive a dental injury?

First aid for a damaged tooth

Wearing a custom-fitted mouthguard when training and playing in contact sports can help to protect your teeth against painful and potentially expensive dental injuries. This information sheet outlines the first aid steps to take, if an accident occurs and a tooth is damaged or knocked out.

If a tooth is cracked or chipped, see your dentist as soon as possible. If possible, place fragments in plastic wrap and take with you to the dentist.

Do not try to reinsert a primary (“baby”) tooth. However seek urgent dental treatment to check if any pieces of tooth remain and to ensure no other damage has been done.

If a secondary (“adult”) tooth is knocked out, remain calm and act quickly. Do the following, immediately:

  • Locate the tooth and, handling it gently by the crown, ensure it is clean. The crown is the smooth white part of the tooth that is normally visible in the mouth
  • If the root of the tooth is dirty, and the patient is calm and conscious, ask them to gently suck the tooth clean. Alternatively, rinse the entire tooth in milk or, very briefly, in water
  • Immediately place the tooth back in the socket, making sure it is facing the right way around. Immediate replacement is essential and should occur within 5-10 minutes of the tooth being knocked out
  • Have the patient hold the tooth in place by biting gently into a soft cloth, or the person administering first aid can use aluminium foil placed over the tooth, and the teeth on either side, to stabilise the tooth
  • If you are unable to replant the tooth back in the socket, keep it moist by putting it in a cup of milk , sealing it in plastic wrap or placing it in the conscious patient’s mouth, next to their cheek
  • Immediately seek dental treatment – time is critical to prevent permanent damage

Extreme care should be taken with a tooth that has been knocked out. Avoid the following:

  • Do not handle the root of the tooth
  • Do not scrape or rub the surface of the tooth
  • Do not let the tooth dry out – keep it moist at all times
  • Do not put the tooth in ice or hot water
  • Avoid rinsing or storing the tooth in water for more than one or two seconds
  • Do not remove any soft tissue fragments from the tooth