From trauma to cavities, there's a variety of ways that a dental injury can occur. If you've experienced a dental injury that's led to a chip, crack, or breakage in your tooth, be sure to follow the three steps below.

Handle any Trauma Related to the Injured Tooth

If you've injured your tooth in a fall, it's very likely that you'll have some things that need tending to immediately, such as bleeding gums. Prior to inspecting the damage and calling your dentist for an appointment, it's important to treat the injury right away to prevent further damage or trauma.

If blood is present, it's important that you apply pressure to the injured area with care. While the pressure should be firm, avoid applying too much pressure to the tooth. As for what to apply pressure with, it's best to use medical gauze, but if that's not available, a washcloth or towel will do.

Assess the Damage and Call Your Dentist

After the bleeding has stopped and everything is under control, it's time to inspect the injured tooth and any teeth surrounding the injured area.

First, rinse your mouth out with lukewarm water. This will clear up any blood that's been left behind and allow you to clean out any debris that may have gotten near the tooth in the course of events. Remember, water that is hot or cold may cause pain or discomfort, so be sure that the water is lukewarm to the touch. Second, inspect the tooth and surrounding areas. If you notice any signs of dental damage, such as a crack, chip, or breakage, it's important to call your dentist right away to set up an appointment. You may be seen that day, but if the injury isn't an emergency, your dentist will advise you to care for the tooth and come in at the next available appointment.

Care for the Injured Tooth

When caring for an injured tooth prior to a dentist appointment, your number-one priority is to prevent further damage from occurring. There are a few ways you can achieve this goal.

One, ask your dentist about applying over-the-counter dental cement to the injured tooth. This is great for chips, cracks, or breaks and can be an inexpensive and safe way to prevent any further damage to the tooth. Two, be sure to protect yourself against further trauma or injury. Avoid playing any sports that may lead to further injury, and be sure to be careful when eating and drinking. Three, care for your dental hygiene as normal, but pay extra care to the injured tooth and surrounding area. Your dentist will let you know if you should avoid brushing or flossing the immediate area, but will likely advise the use of a warm water salt rinse to cleanse the area of debris and bacteria.

To learn more about how to safely handle dental trauma, consult with your dentist right away.