If you or someone you’re with has a dental injury, it's important to get the right help.
Call for emergency help if the person involved has been knocked out (lost consciousness) or if there’s any risk to their breathing caused by swelling and bleeding. Otherwise, contact a dentist straight away or, if it’s outside usual hours, contact an out-of-hours dentist or go to the accident and emergency department at the nearest hospital.
Try to do the following if your tooth has been knocked out.
- Try not to touch the tooth's root – it's best if you handle it by the crown (the white bit at the top).
- If possible, put the tooth back into its socket in your mouth. This is called reimplanting. If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse it with milk or cold water, but don't scrub the tooth. Try to put it in the right way round, but don't worry too much as your dentist can fix this. The important thing is to put it back in as quickly as possible.
- Bite down gently on a clean handkerchief to keep your tooth back in place in its socket.
- If you can't reimplant your tooth, store it in milk or saliva (by spitting into a container) or place it inside your mouth between your cheek and gum until you can get to a dentist.
- If you haven't got the whole tooth, don't try to put a broken tooth back in your mouth. Store it in a pot of saliva or milk as your dentist may be able to reattach it.
- Even if you don't think your tooth is broken, it's important to see your dentist as soon as possible. There may be an injury below the gumline that you can't see.
If you’ve got a dental injury, you might have other injuries that need treating too. This means you might need to have other investigations such as radiographs or a CT scan. Below is an overview of how your dentist will treat loose, knocked out, or chipped teeth.
If your tooth is loose, your dentist may suggest a technique called splinting. A splint is often made from plastic and is placed on your loose tooth and the healthy teeth either side of it. Your dentist will take impressions of your teeth because the splint is made specifically for you. It may stay in place with suction from your saliva but it should be kept in place either with cement or wires attached to nearby teeth. You’ll need to wear it for one to two weeks.
Knocked out teeth
Your dentist will reimplant your tooth or if you’ve already done that they will check the position and whether it needs to be redone. They may then fit a splint to keep it in position.
If part of your tooth has broken off, your dentist will smooth the edge and fit a tooth-coloured filling. Your dentist will examine you and remove any fragments of tooth from your lips or gums and clean the area. You may need dissolvable stitches. If the blood vessels and pulp inside the tooth have been damaged, you may need root canal treatment.
If the root of your tooth has been damaged, you dentist may need to take your tooth out or may suggest root canal treatment to save the tooth.
Eat soft foods and be careful when eating. If your mouth is swollen from the injury, be careful you don’t bite the swollen areas.
Keep your mouth and teeth clean, you could use a mouthwash or put a teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water to gargle. Be gentle but thorough when you clean your teeth.
Don’t play any contact sports or do any activity that could harm your healing mouth, until your dentists advises it’s okay to do so.
Take painkillers, such as ibuprofen, during the first few days if your mouth is sore. If your dentist has prescribed antibiotics, make sure you take the full course.
Contact your dentist if you feel increasing pain and have an unpleasant taste in your mouth, because these could be signs of an infection.
- Management of dental trauma. Medscape. emedicine.medscape.com, published 13 May 2015
- Caring for your mouth after a dental injury. British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. www.baoms.org.uk, accessed 31 March 2016
- Mouth and tooth injuries. St John NZ. www.stjohn.org.nz, accessed 31 March 2016
- Knocked out teeth. British Dental Association. www.bdasmile.org, accessed 31 March 2016
We’d love to know what you think about what you’ve just been reading and looking at – we’ll use it to improve our information. If you’d like to give us some feedback, our short form below will take just a few minutes to complete. And if there's a question you want to ask that hasn't been answered here, please submit it to us. Although we can't respond to specific questions directly, we’ll aim to include the answer to it when we next review this topic.
Let us know what you think using our short feedback form Ask us a question
Reviewed by Natalie Heaton, Specialist Health Editor, Bupa Health Content Team, May 2016.
Peer reviewed by Dr Steve Preddy, Dental Clinical Director, Bupa Dental Services, Bupa UK.
Next review due May 2019.
About our health information
At Bupa we produce a wealth of free health information for you and your family. We believe that trustworthy information is essential in helping you make better decisions about your health and care. Here are just a few of the ways in which our core editorial principles have been recognised.
Information StandardWe are certified by the Information Standard. This quality mark identifies reliable, trustworthy producers and sources of health information.
What our readers say about us
But don't just take our word for it; here's some feedback from our readers.
“Simple and easy to use website - not alarming, just helpful.”
“It’s informative but not too detailed. I like that it’s factual and realistic about the conditions and the procedures involved. It’s also easy to navigate to areas that you specifically want without having to read all the information.”
“Good information, easy to find, trustworthy.”
Meet the team
Head of health content and clinical engagement
- Dylan Merkett – Lead Editor – UK Customer
- Nick Ridgman – Lead Editor – UK Health and Care Services
- Natalie Heaton – Specialist Editor – User Experience
- Pippa Coulter – Specialist Editor – Content Library
- Alice Rossiter – Specialist Editor – Insights
- Laura Blanks – Specialist Editor – Quality
- Michelle Harrison – Editorial Assistant
Our core principles
All our health content is produced in line with our core editorial principles – readable, reliable, relevant – which are represented by our diagram.
In a nutshell, our information is jargon-free, concise and accessible. We know our audience and we meet their health information needs, helping them to take the next step in their health and wellbeing journey.
We use the best quality and most up-to-date evidence to produce our information. Our process is transparent and validated by experts – both our users and medical specialists.
We know that our users want the right information at the right time, in the way that suits them. So we review our content at least every three years to keep it fresh. And we’re embracing new technology and social media so they can get it whenever and wherever they choose.
Here are just a few of the ways in which the quality of our information has been recognised.
The Information Standard certification scheme
You will see the Information Standard quality mark on our content. This is a certification programme, supported by NHS England, that was developed to ensure that public-facing health and care information is created to a set of best practice principles.
It uses only recognised evidence sources and presents the information in a clear and balanced way. The Information Standard quality mark is a quick and easy way for you to identify reliable and trustworthy producers and sources of information.
Certified by the Information Standard as a quality provider of health and social care information. Bupa shall hold responsibility for the accuracy of the information they publish and neither the Scheme Operator nor the Scheme Owner shall have any responsibility whatsoever for costs, losses or direct or indirect damages or costs arising from inaccuracy of information or omissions in information published on the website on behalf of Bupa.
British Medical Association (BMA) patient information awards
We have received a number of BMA awards for different assets over the years. Most recently, in 2013, we received a 'commended' award for our online shared decision making hub.
If you have any feedback on our health information, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us via email: email@example.com. Or you can write to us:
Health Content Team
15-19 Bloomsbury Way