First aid for teeth

Accidents involving your teeth can happen. Find out what to do about knocked out teeth, broken or chipped teeth, or displaced teeth.

Broken or chipped teeth

Broken or chipped teeth are the most common dental injury. Sometimes this makes the tooth very sensitive due to the inner layers of the teeth being exposed (dental pulp or dentine). Other times, there may not be any discomfort, but they look damaged.

It is important to protect broken teeth to prevent infection developing inside the tooth. This can lead to an abscess.

See your dentist as soon as you can. They can give you a protective coating over the broken tooth, or a filling to replace the missing part. 

If the broken part of your tooth is available, bring it with you to the dentist. They will decide if it can be used to repair the tooth.

Knocked out teeth

Sometimes accidents can completely knock out teeth. Many teeth can be replaced after being knocked out. Some will survive very well after this. But the longer the tooth is out of the socket, the less chance it has of surviving in the long term.

Knocked out adult teeth

See your dentist as soon as possible. While you wait to see them:

  1. Hold the tooth by its crown, not the roots. 
  2. Make sure their is no dirt on the root — wash it under water if there is. 
  3. Gently push the tooth back into its socket. 
  4. Hold the tooth in place by biting gently on a piece of cloth. 

If you cannot get the tooth back in its socket, store the tooth in milk until the dentist can replace it. If you do not have milk, store it under the lip. Make sure not to swallow it by mistake. 

Do not scrub the root of the tooth, or wrap it in dry tissue.

Knocked out baby teeth 

Do not try and put baby teeth back in its socket. This may damage the adult tooth developing under it. Contact your child's dental or oral health therapist or dentist. 

If your child does not have a dentist, call 0800 825 583 (0800 TALK TEETH) for the nearest community oral health clinic.

Displaced teeth

Sometimes an injury can lead to a tooth moving out of place. This may be obvious if the tooth is pushed backwards or hanging out. Other times, it can be less obvious. 

If you are having trouble closing your teeth together in a normal position, it is possible that a tooth may be displaced. See your dentist as soon as you can. 

Putting the displaced tooth back into its normal position as soon as possible gives it the best chance of surviving. This reduces complications and the need for further treatment later. 

Other damage to your mouth

Sometimes injuries can also result in damage to the:

  • lips (cuts and bruises)
  • gums
  • structures surrounding the teeth.

It is also important to get these checked properly. You can contact your dentist, healthcare provider or the local hospital for this.


If you have a toothache, make an appointment with your dentist. If it is normally safe for you to take painkillers such as paracetamol, you can do this before you see them.

If you have an infection or a swollen face, seek urgent medical o dental attention.

If you are in extreme pain, go to an after hours dentist.

Dental care (internal link)

Bleeding gums

If you have bleeding gums, make an appointment to see your dentist.

While you wait to see them, keep brushing and rinse with saline solution or chlorhexidine (available from the chemist).