While dental injuries for children are fairly common, they can be stressful and nerve-wracking for you and your child. Read through some of the following helpful tips when assessing your child’s dental emergency.
- Remain calm. With a clear head, you will be able to act more promptly and effectively help minimize your child’s injury and calm their distress.
- If your child hit their head and lost consciousness even for a brief moment, and/or if one pupil seems larger than the other, TAKE YOUR CHILD TO THE HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM RIGHT AWAY! Worry about the teeth later.
- Use a clean washcloth or gauze to stop bleeding and inspect your child’s mouth. If there are broken or missing teeth, look for the teeth or teeth fragments.
Loose Baby Tooth
If your child has a very loose tooth, it should be removed to avoid being swallowed or inhaled.
Knocked Out Baby Tooth
If the knocked-out tooth is a baby tooth, don’t re-insert it or try to save it. We normally do not attempt to save the baby tooth as the tooth will likely ankylose (fuse to the bone) and cause problems for your child’s permanent tooth when it tries to erupt. Have them rinse their mouth with warm water and then use a cold compress to reduce any swelling.
Knocked Out Permanent Teeth
A knocked out permanent tooth is a true dental emergency. By far, the best option is for an adult to replace the tooth before coming to the office. Hold the tooth by the white crown (not the root), rinse it quickly (5 seconds) with water or saline, and replace the tooth in the socket as soon as possible. Have the child bite on a cloth or paper towel to keep the tooth in place. If your child is unable to have the tooth replaced right away, place the tooth in cold milk or Save-A-Tooth if it is available. Avoid storing the tooth dry, in water, or in any other liquids as these can damage the root. Either way, call us right away and come to our office ASAP! Time is of the essence, and the chance of saving the tooth is greater the quicker it is replaced in the socket and proper dental care is received. There is only a small window of opportunity to save the tooth. If the knocked-out tooth is a baby tooth, don’t re-insert it. We normally do not attempt to save the baby tooth as the tooth will likely ankylose (fuse to the bone) and cause problems for your child’s permanent tooth when it tries to erupt.
If your child complains of a toothache, rinse his or her mouth with warm water and inspect his or her teeth to be sure there is nothing caught between them. If pain continues, use a cold compress to ease the pain. Do not apply heat or any kind of aspirin or topical pain reliever directly to the affected area, as this can cause damage to the gums. Children’s pain relievers may be taken orally. Schedule an appointment immediately.
Broken, Chipped, or Fractured Tooth
If your child has chipped or broken a piece off of his tooth, have him rinse his mouth with warm water, then use a cold compress to reduce swelling. Try to locate and save the tooth fragment that broke off. Call us immediately.
Object Caught In Teeth
If your child has something caught between his or her teeth, use dental floss to gently remove it. Never use a metal, plastic, or sharp tool to remove a stuck object. If you are unable to remove the item with dental floss, give us a call.
Bitten Lip or Tongue
If your child has bitten his lip or tongue severely enough to cause bleeding, clean the bite gently with water and use a cold compress (a cold, wet towel or washcloth pressed firmly against the area) to reduce or avoid swelling. Give us a call to help determine how serious the bite is.
If you know or suspect your child has sustained a broken jaw, use a cold compress to reduce swelling. Call our office emergency number and/or head to the medical hospital immediately. In many cases a broken jaw is the result of a blow to the head. Severe blows to the head can be dangerous and even life threatening.
You can help your child avoid dental emergencies. Childproof your house to avoid falls. Don’t let your child chew on ice, popcorn kernels, or other hard foods. Always use car seats for young children and require seatbelts for older children. And if your child plays contact sports, have him or her wear a mouthguard. Ask us about creating a custom-fitted mouthguard for your child. Finally, prevent toothaches with regular brushing, flossing, and visits to our office.
If your child has a facial swelling (one cheek is noticeably bigger than the other), this could be a medical emergency and our office should be notified ASAP. If your child has difficulty breathing or swelling approaching the eye, go to the emergency room. Contact our office as soon as possible.