What to Do When Your Child Chips a Tooth

You’re not alone if you cringe every time your daughter decides she wants to play catcher in a pickup game of softball or your son jumps on the sofa like he’s in Cirque du Soleil. No parent likes the idea of their child getting hurt, even if it only involves a chipped tooth.

Because parents cannot childproof life, there are bound to be accidents — including the occasional chipped tooth. These tips will help you understand what you should (and should not) do if and when it happens.

Keep Calm

Chipped teeth happen. In fact, they are common enough that dentists have become experts at fixing them. If you remain composed, there is a better chance your child will stay calm, and what you really want by the time your reach the dentist’s office is a calm child.

Inspect Her Mouth

Look inside your child’s mouth to make sure there are no pieces of tooth still in there and that the affected area is not bleeding. If there is blood, fold a clean piece of wet gauze and place it on top of the area. Ask your child to bite down (if she’s too young to comply, simply hold it in place). Keep up the pressure for 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Rinse her mouth.

Check for Any Pain

Ask your child if she’s in any pain. If the answer is yes, press a cold compress (a frozen bag of peas will do the trick) to her face in order to reduce any swelling. An age-appropriate pain reliever can be given if necessary.

Call Your Dentist

Most people do not have the number for their child’s dentist programmed into their phone, although at times like this you will realize that doing so is a good idea. Call the office, let them know the situation, and find out if they want you to come in immediately or if you should make an appointment. Their answer will be determined by a number of issues, including whether your child is in pain or more than half the tooth was broken. In that case, the nerve may be exposed, which requires attention immediately.

Save the Fragment

If you find the piece of tooth that chipped off, keep it moist in a cup of milk. In some situations, a dentist can use a special glue to reattach tooth fragments.

Gather Intel

Learn more about your options. Although you and your child’s dentist will ultimately decide what’s best, it’s smart to know more about the available procedures for such a situation. If the chip is quite minor, the dentist will likely file the tooth down until it’s smooth and call it good. If the chip is larger, the dentist may suggest dental bonding, a procedure that adds a bonding material to the area where the missing chip should be. If bonding is not possible, your dentist may suggest a veneer.

Follow Up

No matter how minor a chipped tooth may appear, it is always a good idea to have a dentist look at it. Sometimes, even though they’re not obvious, the root of the tooth may have fractured. The best course of action is to have your child checked out in order to prevent infection and/or future dental problems.


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