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posted: 7/13/2011 12:01 AM

What to do in a dental emergency

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By Janice Youngwith

While prevention is the name of the game when it comes to keeping kids off the injured list, knowing what to do in a dental emergency is vital. The best advice in the case of a dental emergency is to follow recommendations of your own dentist. For a few common sports-related dental issues, Dr. Sonia Guiterrez and colleagues at Kids Dentist in Grayslake, recommend:

Cut or bitten tongue, lip or cheek

Apply ice to bruised areas. If bleeding, apply gentle but firm pressure with a clean gauze or cloth. If bleeding doesn't stop after 15 minutes, or cannot be controlled by simple pressure, it's time to head to the dentist or emergency room.

Broken tooth

Rinse dirt from injured area with warm water. Place cold compress over the face in the area of the injury. Locate and save any broken tooth fragments. Immediate dental attention is necessary.

Knocked out permanent tooth

Find the tooth. Handle tooth by the top (crown) and not the root portion. Try to reinsert in the socket. Have the child hold the tooth in place by biting on a clean gauze or cloth. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, transport tooth in a cup of milk. See a dentist immediately. Time is critical in saving the tooth.

Broken braces and wires

If a broken appliance can be easily removed, take it out. If not, cover the sharp or protruding portion with cotton balls, gauze or chewing gum. If a wire is stuck in the gums, cheek or tongue, do NOT remove. Take the child to a dentist immediately. Loose or broken appliances which do not bother the child do not usually require emergency attention.

Possible broken jaw

If a fractured jaw is suspected, try to keep the jaw from moving by using a towel, tie or handkerchief. Head to the nearest emergency room.

Bleeding after baby tooth falls out

Fold and pack clean gauze or cloth over the bleeding area. Have the child bite on the gauze with pressure for 15 minutes. This process may be repeated once. If bleeding persists, see a dentist.