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What to do for a cracked or knocked-out tooth

A boy smiles as he leans back in an exam chair. His dentist smiles back.

Injured teeth can sometimes be saved. But you've got to get care right away.

Sure, you've got a whole mouthful. But that doesn't mean you won't miss a tooth if you lose one.

So first of all, protect your teeth by wearing a mouth guard during sports and activities that put your teeth at risk, and don't chew on ice, popcorn kernels or hard candy.

If an accident happens despite your best efforts to avoid it, you can improve your tooth's chance for survival.

These tips from the American Dental Association and the American College of Emergency Physicians can help.

If a tooth gets broken, rinse your mouth with warm water, put a cold compress on your face, and gather the tooth fragments if you can. Call your dentist or doctor immediately.

If a tooth gets knocked out, pick it up by the crown and rinse the root gently. Do not scrub the tooth or remove any attached tissue. To preserve it, keep the tooth in your mouth between your cheek and gums or put the tooth in a glass of milk. Go to your dentist or doctor right away.

If a tooth gets loosened, try to gently return the tooth to its natural position, but don't force it. Hold the tooth in place with moistened tissue or gauze, and get medical care within 30 minutes.

If there's no visible injury, but you feel a sharp pain whenever you bite down on a particular spot, you may have a cracked tooth. Call your dentist.

Skip the aspirin. Never put aspirin or any other pain reliever directly on an aching tooth. It can burn the gum tissue.

Reviewed 5/25/2021

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