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How many people each year suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death after a hospital visit?
from 46,000 to 78,000
from 78,000 to 132,000
from 132,000 to 210,000
from 210,000 to 440,000

 Emergency & First Aid: First Aid for Dental Emergencies 
American Institute for Preventive Medicine ©
Things that need emergency dental and/or first aid care include:
  • Broken tooth
  • Knocked-out tooth
  • Fractured jaw
  • Abscess tooth (inflammation and/or infection in the bone and/or the tooth's canals)
  • Toothache


To protect your teeth:

  • Brush with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day.
  • Floss daily.
  • See your dentist for regular dental cleanings and check-ups.
  • Don't chew ice, pens, or pencils.
  • Don't use your teeth to open paper clips or function as tools.
  • If you smoke a pipe, don't bite down on the stem.
  • If you grind your teeth at night, ask your dentist if you should be fitted for a bite plate to prevent tooth grinding.
  • If you play contact sorts like football or hockey, wear a protective mouth guard.
  • Always wear a seat belt when riding in a car.
  • Avoid sucking on lemons or chewing aspirin or vitamin C tablets. The acid wears away tooth enamel.

Even when these preventive measures are taken, you may encounter toothaches and other dental emergencies.

Questions to Ask

Do you have any of these problems with tooth pain?
  • Gnawing pain in the lower teeth or neck
  • Chest discomfort beneath the breast bone
  • Pain that travels to or is felt in the shoulder or arm
  • Sweating
Yes: Seek CareGive First Aid
Get Emergency Care and give first aid before emergency care.
Has one or more teeth been broken or knocked out?Yes: Seek CareGive First Aid

Get Emergency Care and give first aid procedures before emergency care:

For a fractured jaw:

  • Close your mouth and secure the jaw with a necktie, towel, or scarf tied around your head and chin.
  • Hold an ice pack against the fractured bone.

For a broken or loose tooth:

  • Apply a cold compress to the area to reduce swelling.
  • Save any broken tooth fragments. Put them in a jar with milk or wrap them in a wet cloth.
  • Take them to the dentist.

If your tooth has been knocked out:

  • Rinse the tooth with clear water.
  • If possible (and if you're alert), gently put it back in the socket or hold it under your tongue. Otherwise, put the tooth in a jar with milk or wrap in a wet cloth.
  • If the gum is bleeding, hold a gauze pad, a clear handkerchief, or a tissue tightly in place over the wound.
  • Try to get to a dentist within 30 minutes of the accident.
Do you have one or more of these problems with the toothache?
  • Lasting or throbbing pain
  • Fever
  • Earache
  • Neck or jaw tenderness or swollen glands in the side where the tooth aches
  • General ill feeling
  • Bad breath and/or foul taste in the mouth
Yes:See Doctor
Give First Aid

First Aid

First Aid for a toothache (until you get professional help):

  • To reduce pain, take aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen sodium. (Note: Do not give aspirin or any medication that has salicylates to anyone under age 19, unless a doctor tells you to.) Hold an ice pack on the jaw.
  • Never place a crushed aspirin on the tooth. Aspirin burns the gum and destroys tooth enamel.
  • Do not drink very hot or cold liquids.
  • Do not chew gum.
  • Avoid sweets, soft drinks and hot and spicy foods. (These can irritate cavities and increase pain.) It may be best not to eat at all until your see your dentist.
  • Gargle with warm salt water every hour.
  • For a cavity, pack it with a piece of sterile cotton soaked in oil of cloves (available at drugstores).
  • See a dentist even if the pain subsides.
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Disclaimer: The information provided on HealthWorld Online is for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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