One in four Americans between the ages of 6 and 50 will sustain an injury to their incisors, according to a recent study by the National Institute of Dental Research, so it is important to know how to respond in a dental emergency. The University or Washington’s Health Beat reports that the prognosis for patients following a dental injury often depends on the type of injury and the amount of time it takes for a patient to receive treatment following a dental injury.

One of the easiest injuries to treat is a chipped tooth. If the tooth is only slightly chipped, the patient should see a dentist as soon as possible. It is no longer always necessary to use a crown to repair the damage because new filling materials can restore the tooth, “like putting an adhesive bandage on a wound.” More severe damage to a tooth may require a root canal and a crown.

If a tooth is knocked out, the patient should immediately replace the tooth in the socket, if possible. The tooth may very well last a lifetime if replaced immediately. If it is not possible to replace the tooth, the patient should place the tooth in milk, saline solution, saliva or tap water to keep it moist, then see a dentist.

Whatever the injury, the patient should have the dentist examine the injury to determine whether the inside of the tooth has been damaged and may require treatment. Moreover, patients should not hesitate to contact a dentist after hours in a dental emergency, because with dental injuries, time often is crucial to effective treatment.