Common dental emergencies... what should be done?


Dental emergencies often arise during a youth-serving organizations's sponsored events such as childcare, day or resident camp, and youth sports. Knowing and following the proper response techniques can be critical to the dental health of the participant involved. The Redwoods Group gratefully acknowledges the Academy for Sports Dentistry in supplying this important public service information. The Academy for Sports Dentistry, a professional organization dedicated to the dental needs of athletes at risk to sports injuries, recommends that every sports medicine team includes a dentist knowledgeable in sports dentistry. See: The Academy for Sports Dentistry recommends that a properly fitted mouth guard be standard equipment for all sports activity.

AVULSION (entire tooth knocked out)

common for athletes

  • Avoid additional trauma to tooth while handling
    • DO NOT handle tooth by the root
    • DO NOT brush or scrub tooth
    • DO NOT sterilize tooth
  • If debris is on the tooth, gently rinse with water
  • If possible, reimplant tooth and stabilize by biting down gently on a towel or handkerchief. Do only if athlete is alert and conscious.
  • If unable to reimplant:
    • Best - Place tooth in Hank’s Balanced Saline Solution
    • 2nd best - Place tooth in cold milk
    • 3rd best - Wrap tooth in saline-soaked gauze
    • 4th best - Place tooth under athlete’s tongue… ONLY if the athlete is conscious and alert
    • 5th best - Place tooth in cup of water
  • Time is very important
    • Reimplantation within 30 minutes has the highest degree of success rate
    • Transport immediately to a dentist

LUXATION (tooth in socket, but in the wrong position)

common for athletes

  • EXTRUDED TOOTH - upper tooth hangs down and/or lower tooth raised up

    • Reposition tooth in socket using firm finger pressure
    • Stabilize tooth by gently biting on towel or handkerchief
    • Transport immediately to a dentist
  • LATERAL DISPLACEMENT - tooth pushed back or pulled forward.

    • Try to reposition tooth using finger pressure
    • Athlete may require local anesthetic (Anbesol) to reposition tooth; if so, stabilize tooth by gently biting on towel or handkerchief
    • Transport immediately to a dentist
  • INTRUDED TOOTH - tooth pushed into gum - looks short.

    • Do nothing - avoid any repositioning of tooth
    • Transport immediately to a dentist

FRACTURE (broken tooth)

common for athletes

  • If tooth is totally broken in half
    • Save the broken portion and bring to the dental office as described under the above section “AVULSION … if unable to reimplant
    • Stabilize portion of tooth left in mouth by gently biting on towel or handkerchief to control bleeding.
  • Should extreme pain occur
    • limit contact with other teeth, air or tongue
    • Pulp nerve may be exposed which is extremely painful to athlete
    • Transport patient and tooth fragments immediately to a dentist
    • For best transport of transporting a tooth/teeth preserving system, use


common with childcare and program participants

The following information is provided courtesy of the National Society of Dental Practitioners.

  • Rinse the mouth with warm water to clean it out.
  • Floss to make sure that food or foreign objects aren't lodged around the tooth.
  • Do not place aspirin on the aching tooth or gum tissues.
  • Contact the parent or guardian to make an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible.


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