What to do in a Dental emergency

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The mouth is one of the most injured area of a body in contact sports. Running around a wet floor at swimming pools and even slippery marble floors can also cause one to slip easily, hence it is no surprise to know that accidents resulting in mouth and teeth trauma are very common here in Singapore.

Adults and parents should be prepared when such accidents occur and take appropriate measures. The guidelines below are the basic do’s and don’ts during an emergency:

Complete tooth knocked out of the gum (Avulsion)

  1. In the event of Avulsion, locate the tooth and wash it in plain milk or simply by licking it (in the event of a minor trauma with little blood). Always avoid washing using water, whenever possible.
  2. You can attempt to replant an adult tooth by applying finger pressure. Alternatively, you can try biting on a handkerchief,
  3. For a baby tooth however, do not replant as the pressure can lead to damage to the future adult tooth.
  4. If tooth replanting is not feasible, you can keep it wrapped under your tongue or the inside of the cheeks or place it in plain milk or salt water. If milk/ salt water is not available, place it in a plastic wrap or wet towel

Once the tooth is securely stored, see your dentist as soon as possible, optimally within an hour of the accident.

Fractured tooth (instead of a complete avulsion)

Locate the fractured piece as it can normally be bonded back together. Place it in salt water (if possible) and consult your dentist quickly.

For a far more serious trauma injuries that involves facial fractures, proceed to the hospital immediately. Look for these signs and symptoms to determine the seriousness of the injury:

  • any bruising/ swelling of the face, nosebleeds and/ or impaired vision
  • experience pain when talking or swallowing, accompanied by facial bruises, swelling and tenderness
  • irregular alignment of the upper and lower jaws/ teeth

You can reduce swelling, bleeding and pain by applying cold compress over the affected area and in the event of excessive bleeding, stem the bleeding by applying direct pressure of the cut/ wound.

Always remember to stay calm in any emergency as this will help you stay focused in treating the injuries to your child or others.


Dr Bernard Siew is the Clinic Director at Smilefocus. Dr Siew’s areas of interest include cosmetic dentistry, Invisalign aligners, dental veneers in porcelain and resin, as well as teeth whitening. For an appointment please call: 6733 9882 or click here