Mouth and/or teeth injuries often occur as a result of assaults, falls, direct blows—punches and other forms of physical trauma.
If the lower jaw is affected or is given a direct blow, the person may bite his tongue or lips leading to severe bleeding and pain. Injuries like these that lead to severe bleeding may also obstruct the person’s airways leading to more severe effects due to injury. In case a tooth is knocked off due to the blow, it is ideal to save it and administer first aid to treat tooth loss.
Injuries that lead to swelling inside or outside the mouth may occur as a result of a blow or an allergic reaction. Either way, the upper airway and the throat are obstructed due to the inflammation; therefore, you must seek prompt medical treatment to treat the condition before major complications result. Individuals that have taken first aid and CPR courses are well equipped to manage these scenarios and we strongly urge you attend a course to learn with “hands on” training how to manage these and other emergencies.
Signs and symptoms
- Bleeding—in the mouth, tongue, lips and tooth socket
- Severe pain in or around the mouth
- Swelling around the jaw or inside the mouth
- A displaced, loose or broken tooth
1. Assess the injury
- Check the airway and make sure it’s clear. Bleeding may allow blood to flow down the throat, which may obstruct the airways. Similarly swelling of the tongue, mouth or throat may also close the airways. Therefore, the casualty must be positioned on his side (i.e. recovery position) to support unobstructed breathing.
- If the person is not bleeding heavily or is not experiencing any breathing difficulties—allow him to rest in a position he is most comfortable with. Usually sitting or half sitting positions are more comfortable for patients. Next, look for affected areas that may be bleeding.
2. Control bleeding
- Use sterile gauze or a clean cloth to apply pressure on the wounds or tooth socket firmly to control bleeding. You may also fold a clean tissue or cloth into a pad and ask the casualty to press it firmly against the affected area while you assess other regions of his face and mouth.
- If the lip is affected and is bleeding, fold the dressing or tissue into a cup and place the wound between the folds and press firmly.
3. For tooth loss:
- Do not touch the root of the knocked out tooth and hold it by the crown only.
- Ask the casualty to suck it a little to clean it and place it in the tooth socket to ensure the root stays alive.
- Place an aluminum foil to splint the tooth until you can see your dentist. You must see your dentist within 30-60 minutes before your tooth dies
- Wrap the aluminum foil on the adjacent tooth and ask the casualty to firmly bite down so that the splint can keep the root intact.
- If the patient is unable to respond, just try to keep the tooth clean and moist. Note that you must not scrape the enamel or wash it in water to clean it. You can also ask the casualty to keep the tooth between the lip and lower front teeth so that it remains moist in the casualty’s saliva however, you must ensure he is fully awake and alert as it may risk to the swallowing of the tooth.
- If the casualty is unconscious, contain the tooth in some milk.
4. Visit your dentist immediately if your tooth has been knocked out or if you are experiencing severe bleeding.
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