Tooth Injury

Tooth Injury

Is this your symptom?

  • Injuries to the teeth

Some Basics...

  • There are many ways that people can injure their teeth.
  • There are also many types of tooth injuries. Teeth are made of bonelike material that can be injured.
  • Treatment depends on the type of injury a person has. A dentist will know the right way to treat a tooth injury.

Types of Tooth Injuries

  • Avulsion of Tooth (knocked out tooth): This is a dental emergency. A knocked out tooth needs to be quickly put back in its socket. This should be done within minutes. Do not wait more than 2 hours.
  • Concussion of Tooth: This is when a tooth was bumped but is not loose. This is the most common dental injury. No dental care is needed right away. Rarely, a concussed tooth can die. This will happen after a few days or weeks. A tooth has died when it becomes darker than the other teeth.
  • Crown Fracture Complication: This can be a cracked tooth with pulp exposure. There is most often a large piece of the tooth that is broken off. There also may be a small red dot or pink blush in the fractured area. This is the pulp. It is quite painful and is very sensitive to air and cold liquids. To help pain and prevent tooth damage, these fractures need to be treated right away. Most of these fractures will need a root canal.
  • Chipped Tooth (no pulp exposure): This is a small painless chipped tooth. This should be looked at by a dentist in 24-72 hours.
  • Cracked Tooth (infraction):This is a small hairline crack of a tooth. There is a thin fracture line without any missing piece of tooth. This should be looked at by a dentist in 24-72 hours.
  • Intruded Tooth: The tooth has been pushed deeper into the gum and tooth socket. This should be looked at by a dentist in 24-72 hours.
  • Loosened Tooth: This is also called subluxation. If there is only mild looseness, the tooth most often tightens up by itself. The gums may bleed a little.
  • Loosened and Displaced Tooth (luxation): See a dentist. Displaced teeth that get in the way of biting, chewing or closing the mouth need to be moved back. This should be done within 4 hours. Mild displacement should be looked at by a dentist within 24 hours.

Pain Scale

  • None: No pain. Pain score is 0 on a scale of 0 to 10.
  • Mild: The pain does not keep you from work, school, or other normal activities. Pain score is 1-3 on a scale of 0 to 10.
  • Moderate: The pain keeps you from working or going to school. It wakes you up from sleep. Pain score is 4-7 on a scale of 0 to 10.
  • Severe: The pain is very bad. It may be worse than any pain you have had before. It keeps you from doing any normal activities. Pain score is 8-10 on a scale of 0 to 10.

When to Call for Tooth Injury

Call 911 Now

  • Knocked out (unconscious) for more than one minute
  • You think you have a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • You think you need to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Self Care at Home

  • Minor tooth injury

Care Advice for Minor Tooth Injuries

  1. What You Should Know:
    • There are many ways that people can injure their teeth.
    • There are also many types of tooth injuries. Teeth are made of bonelike material that can be injured.
    • You can treat minor tooth injuries at home.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Cold: For pain or swelling, put a piece of ice on the injured gum area. You can also use a popsicle. Do this for 20 minutes.
  3. Pain Medicine:
    • You can take one of the following drugs if you have pain: acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve).
    • They are over-the-counter (OTC) pain drugs. You can buy them at the drugstore.
    • Use the lowest amount of a drug that makes your pain feel better.
    • Acetaminophen is safer than ibuprofen or naproxen in people over 65 years old.
    • Read the instructions and warnings on the package insert for all medicines you take.
  4. Soft Diet: If you have any loose teeth, eat soft foods for 3 days. After 3 days, the tooth should be less loose.
  5. Call Your Dentist If:
    • Pain becomes severe
    • Tooth becomes sensitive to hot or cold fluids
    • Tooth becomes a darker color
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Last Reviewed: 10/18/2017 1:26:00 AM
Last Updated: 5/7/2017 1:36:21 PM

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First Aid - Tooth - Knocked Out

To save the tooth, it must be put back in the socket (reimplanted) as soon as possible. Two hours is the outer limit for survival. Right away is best.

Here are the steps for putting the tooth back in the socket:

  • Step 1: Rinse off the tooth with saliva or water. Do not scrub the tooth.
  • Step 2: Replace it in the socket facing the correct way. Press down on the tooth with your thumb until the crown is level with the adjacent tooth.
  • Step 3: Lastly, bite down on a wad of cloth to stabilize the tooth until the injured person can be seen by a dentist. If your dentist is not immediately available, then go to the emergency department.

If the tooth cannot be put back in its socket: Place the tooth in either milk or saliva to keep it from drying out, and go right away to the dentist. Again, If your dentist is not immediately available, then go to the emergency department.

Special Notes:

  • Even if you get the tooth back in the socket right away, only time will tell whether the tooth will live. It may not.
  • Baby teeth can't be re-implanted. (Give it to the Tooth Fairy!)
First Aid - Tooth - Transport in Milk

It is very important to keep the knocked out (avulsed) tooth moist. Do not let it dry out. Transport the tooth in milk or saliva. These images show how to transport the tooth in milk.

  • Milk Transport - Method 1 (best): Place tooth in a small plastic bag with some milk. Put plastic bag in a cup of ice.
  • Milk Transport - Method 2: Place tooth in a cup of cool milk.
First Aid - Tooth - Transport in Saliva

It is very important to keep the tooth moist. Do not let it dry out. Transport the tooth in milk or saliva. These images show how to transport the tooth in saliva.

  • Saliva Transport Method 1: Put the tooth in the mouth inside the cheek. (Only fully alert adults should use this method.)
  • Saliva Transport Method 2: Put the tooth in a cup and keep tooth moist with saliva (spit).