Dental Emergencies in Children

Hopefully you’ll never have to deal with a dental emergency, but as they say, kids will be kids. They rough-house, they play sports and “forget” to wear their mouth guards and they eat all sorts of things that are hard on their teeth. Trust us when we say that “Jawbreakers” candy would be more appropriately named “Tooth-breakers”.

So are you prepared to handle a dental emergency if one arises with your child? Here is a basic guideline to help you out in case of a dental emergency:

If your child knocks out a tooth…

Baby tooth or permanent tooth, it doesn’t matter: if your child knocks out a tooth you need to schedule an emergency visit to the dentist ASAP. Handling the tooth by the crown and NOT the root, rinse it off with milk, but first PLUG THE DRAIN. Do not scrub the tooth, touch the root, or remove anything you might see sticking to it or from it.

See if it’s possible to re-insert the tooth into the empty socket. If yes, you can secure it in place by biting down on a wad of clean cloth (gauze if you have it, if not any clean cloth will work). If the tooth cannot be returned to the socket, store the tooth in a clean container filled with milk, saliva or saltwater. Keeping the tooth damp is important; the drier the tooth gets the less likely it is to be reattached.

If your child knocks loose a permanent tooth…

Bleeding from the gums is normal when a tooth is pushed out of position. Refrain from moving the tooth or messing with it – unless of course it has shifted enough to where it needs to be re-positioned. Do not put too much pressure on it. Eat only soft foods, and put very little pressure on the tooth. You’ll want to schedule an emergency dental visit to have a professional assess the situation. If it’s not too loose it will probably tighten up on its own after a few days.

If your child chips a tooth…

If a tooth is only slightly chipped there shouldn’t be any pain. A larger chip can expose the nerves making the tooth very sensitive. It’s best to have a professional check it out either way to make sure everything is OK.

If your child chips their tooth have them rinse their mouth with warm water. If the tongue, cheeks or lips were injured by the chipped tooth, apply pressure to the wound with clean gauze (or any other clean cloth). If you have a while to wait before the appointment, you can purchase dental cement at most pharmacies; apply it to the chip and it will help with any exposed nerve pain and protect the tooth until the dentist can fix it.

If your child fractures a tooth…

A fractured or cracked tooth shouldn’t hurt when you bite down, but will cause pain when you release the bite. Exposure to hot and cold temperatures and eating will also cause pain in a fractured or cracked tooth. If the fractured tooth hurts nonstop you need to get your child to the dentist ASAP. This can be a sign that nerves or blood vessels are damaged.

There are several different kinds of fractures, chips and breaks, each one needing a different treatment. If left untreated, any of these conditions can lead to something worse, so it’s important to have a professional assess the damage and treat it accordingly.


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