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First Aid for Broken Tooth

Last updated March 3, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

A Broken Tooth is a common dental condition in which a tooth is broken or knocked out, due to an injury or trauma. It is a dental emergency, if a permanent tooth is broken, especially in older children and adults.

What is Broken Tooth?

  • A Broken Tooth is a common dental condition in which a tooth is broken or knocked out, due to an injury or trauma. It is a dental emergency, if a permanent tooth is broken, especially in older children and adults
  • The condition is also known as an Avulsed Tooth. Depending on the extent of damage, the tooth may or may not be placed back in position
  • Common causes associated with a Broken Tooth include participation in rough or high-impact sports, physical fights, falls, and automobile accidents

What are the Causes of Broken Tooth?

Broken Tooth may be caused by any of the following factors:

  • Athletic activities or rough/high-impact sports 
  • Physical quarrel, fights with other individuals, domestic violence
  • Any traumatic event, such as automobile, motorcycle, or bicycle accidents that cause injuries to the face
  • Fall injuries (mostly observed in young children and older adults)

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Broken Tooth?

The signs and symptoms of Broken Tooth include:

  • Injury to the associated blood vessels, nerves, and tissues
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Moderate to severe pain
  • More than one tooth may be involved, depending on the type of injury
  • In some cases, the entire tooth may not be broken, but a part of it gets chipped

How is First Aid administered for Broken Tooth?

First Aid tips for Broken Tooth include:

  • Find the tooth and gently pick it up by the crown (and NOT by the root)
  • Rinse and clean the tooth using milk (preferably) or water; keep the tooth wet
  • DO NOT WIPE the tooth with a cloth
  • Place the tooth in a small bowl/glass of milk and visit your dental healthcare provider, as soon as possible (with the dislodged tooth)
  • Control bleeding using a piece of gauze or clean cloth, by the application of direct pressure, if necessary
  • In case of severely damaged tooth and/or injury to the gums or jaws, visit the dentist right away
  • In adults:
    • When possible, try placing the knocked-out tooth back in position (by pushing it gently into the socket), and immediately visit the dentist
    • Bite on a piece of clean cloth/gauze to keep the knocked-out tooth firmly in place, when possible
    • Also, one may use the lips and tongue to keep the Broken Tooth in place
    • DO NOT force the Broken Tooth into position, if it does not stay in place (especially on the upper jaw)
  • In children or babies, who lost a milk tooth:
    • DO NOT place it back or re-insert the tooth. However, take the child to the dentist as soon as possible
    • In case a permanent tooth is knocked-out in an older child, try to place it back in position
    • Ask the child to bite on a piece of folded cloth, to retain the tooth within the socket
    • It is important to see that the tooth is not accidentally swallowed
  • Apply an icepack for 10-15 minutes to the outside, to ease pain
  • Avoid bending down and try to keep the head upright
  • Visit a healthcare specialist immediately for further assessment and treatment, preferably within 60 minutes of the incident, to increase the chances of restoring a Broken Tooth

Note: Some dental clinics have a storage box that helps save/store the dislodged tooth; try to avail the service.

Who should administer First Aid for Broken Tooth?

The affected individual or any bystander can administer first aid. Since, a Broken Tooth is a dental emergency, immediate medical assistance for replanting the tooth must be sought (in case a permanent tooth is involved).

What is the Prognosis of Broken Tooth?

  • The prognosis of a Broken Tooth depends on several factors including the extent of injury, the condition of the tooth (whether broken or badly damaged), and the time elapsed between the accident and the time taken to treat the condition
  • In many cases, when there is no crack or fracture of the displaced tooth, or considerable damage to the gums and jaw bones, the knocked-out tooth can be replaced into the socket and re-implanted with timely intervention (treatment provided within an hour). The healing time involved is typically a few weeks
  • In case of significant injury to the tooth and mouth/jaw, the healing time may extend to a few months. Following this, periodic dental checkups may be necessary for many months to sometimes, even for a few years

How can Broken Tooth be Prevented?

A few helpful tips to prevent Broken Tooth:

  • Individuals, who participate in any high-risk sports, such as football or hockey, should wear appropriate safety gear and helmets
  • Provide a safe play environment to children
  • Wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle or bicycle
  • Wear a seatbelt while driving an automobile
  • Avoid biting on hard substances including hard foods (such as bones)

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Appropriate and urgent medical help
  • Retrieve the knocked-out tooth; handle it carefully by the crown and DO NOT touch the root of the tooth
  • DO NOT brush or use chemicals to clean the retrieved tooth

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Aug. 26, 2017
Last updated: March 3, 2018