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Dental First Aid
Please note that the following information is for educational purposes only. The information presented here, or anywhere on this site, is not a substitute for consulting a dentist or other health care specialist.

Abscesses are infections that occur around the root of a tooth or in the space between the teeth and gums. Abscesses are a serious condition that can damage tissue and surrounding teeth, with the infection possibly spreading to other parts of the body if left untreated.

Because of the serious oral health and general health problems that can result from an abscess, see your dentist as soon as possible if you discover a pimple-like swelling on your gum that usually is painful. In the meantime, to ease the pain and draw the pus toward the surface, try rinsing your mouth with a mild salt water solution (1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water) several times a day.

If gums are red, swollen or sore, rinse every two hours with a mixture of equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide or with a warm salt water solution.

If condition does not improve in a few days, see a dentist.

If a wire breaks or sticks out of a bracket or band and is poking your cheek, tongue or gum, try using the eraser end of a pencil to push the wire into a more comfortable position. If you can't reposition the wire, cover the end with orthodontic wax, a small cotton ball, or piece of gauze until you can get to your dentist's or orthodontist's office.

Never cut the wire, as you could end up swallowing it or breathing it into your lungs.

If you think the jaw is broken, do not move the jaw. Wrap a scarf, handkerchief, tie or towel around the head to keep the jaw from moving and go to a hospital emergency room immediately.

For temporary pain relief, apply an over-the-counter cream/gel that has benzocaine. Benzocaine numbs the area. Follow directions on label. Avoid hot, spicy foods. A non-aspirin pill can be swallowed. Do not apply pill directly to the sores.

If sores do not heal within 7-14 days and/or signs of fever and pain persist, contact a dentist.

Save any pieces. Rinse the mouth using warm water; rinse any broken pieces. If there's bleeding, apply a piece of gauze to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops.

See your dentist as soon as possible.

See your dentist right away. Until you reach your dentist's office, to relieve pain, apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever (such as Tylenol or Advil) if needed.

Retrieve the tooth, hold it by the crown (the part that is usually exposed in the mouth), and rinse off the tooth root with water if it's dirty. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If possible, try to put the tooth back in place. Make sure it's facing the right way. Never force it into the socket. If it's not possible to reinsert the tooth in the socket, put the tooth in a small container of milk (or cup of water that contains a pinch of table salt, if milk is not available) or a product containing cell growth medium, such as Save-a-Tooth.

In all cases, see your dentist as quickly as possible. Knocked out teeth with the highest chances of being saved are those seen by the dentist and returned to their socket within 1 hour of being knocked out.

Temporarily reattach loose braces with a small piece of orthodontic wax. Alternatively, place the wax over the braces to provide a cushion. See your orthodontist as soon as possible. If the problem is a loose band, save it and call your orthodontist for an appointment to have it recemented or replaced (and to have missing spacers replaced).

If the crown falls off, make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible and bring the crown with you. If you can't get to the dentist right away and the tooth is causing pain, use a cotton swab to apply a little clove oil to the sensitive area (clove oil can be purchased at your local drug store or in the spice aisle of your grocery store). If possible, slip the crown back over the tooth. Before doing so, coat the inner surface with toothpaste, or denture adhesive, to help hold the crown in place. Do not use super glue!

As a temporary measure, stick a piece of sugarless gum into the cavity (sugar-filled gum will cause pain) or use an over-the-counter dental cement. See your dentist as soon as possible.

First, try using dental floss to very gently and carefully remove the object. If you can't get the object out, see your dentist.

Find the site and apply a cold pack to the outside of the face. A non-aspirin, over-the-counter children's pain reliever can be swallowed. Do not apply pill directly on gums. An over-the-counter cream/gel that has benzocaine can also be used directly on the gums. Follow directions on medicine label. If pain continues, contact a dentist.

Injuries to the soft tissues, which include the tongue, cheeks, gums and lips, can result in bleeding. To control the bleeding, here's what to do:

  • Rinse your mouth with a mild salt-water solution.
  • Use a moistened piece of gauze or tea bag to apply pressure to the bleeding site. Hold in place for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • To both control bleeding and relieve pain, hold a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek in the affected area for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • If the bleeding doesn't stop, see your dentist right away or go to a hospital emergency room. Continue to apply pressure on the bleeding site with the gauze until you can be seen and treated.

If bleeding, apply pressure with a clean cloth. If swelling occurs, apply a cold pack. If bleeding does not stop or if bite is severe, go to a hospital emergency room.

First, thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm water. Use dental floss to remove any lodged food. If you feel your face or the area around the painful tooth is swollen, then apply cold packs to outside of face and see your doctor or dentist, who may prescribe an antibiotic. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever (such as Tylenol or Advil) if needed. Never put aspirin or any other painkiller against the gums near the aching tooth because it may burn the gum tissue. See your dentist as soon as possible.