Kids are known for being unpredictable and sometimes getting themselves into sticky situations. The same goes for their teeth.
Whether it's a loose tooth that won't stay in, an unexpected fall that causes a chipped tooth, or worse. That's why parents and guardians need to prepare for dental emergencies and know what to do when they occur.
So don't wait—read on for information that could save your child's smile!
What Constitutes a Dental Emergency for Children?
Most parents would agree that it's an emergency anytime their child is in distress. But when it comes to dental pain, it means our little one's pearly whites are in danger because their tooth's structural integrity has been compromised.
Many different things cause pediatric dental emergencies, but some of the most common include:
- A knocked-out tooth
- A broken tooth
- Severe toothache pain
- Swollen gums
- Objects caught between teeth
Dental emergencies are never fun, but they can be especially frightening for kids. But by remaining calm and knowing what to do ahead of time, you can help your child through the situation until professional help is available.
What to Do in A Dental Emergency
In any situation, we recommend that parents and guardians remain calm. Easier said than done, we know. But staying calm will help you think more clearly so you can take the appropriate steps to help your child.
The first thing you'll want to do is assess the situation and see how severe it is. Depending on the case, you can call us right away or even wait until regular business hours. But if the emergency is life-threatening or your child is in distress, don't hesitate to call us and we'll do our best to see you immediately.
If you're unsure whether the situation is an emergency, feel free to call us. We can help you decide the best course of action. Nevertheless, here are a few general tips for some of the most common pediatric dental emergencies:
- Clean the area around the tooth and rinse the mouth with lukewarm salt water to remove any food or debris that may be causing the pain.
- Apply a cold pack if any swelling occurs to relieve the pain and help reduce any swelling temporarily.
- Give your child over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen if they're in moderate discomfort. Also known as Paracetamol, it alleviates pain by reducing inflammation. Remember not to give your child Aspirin as it can cause further irritation.
If the pain lasts more than a day or two, call us so we can take a look and see what's going on.
Chipped, Broken, or Cracked Tooth
There's no need to worry if your child’s tooth is only slightly chipped. You can usually wait until regular business hours to call us and schedule an appointment. If the tooth is broken or cracked, however, it's best to do the following:
- Rinse your child's mouth with lukewarm water to remove dirt or debris.
- Apply clean gauze to the area to help stop bleeding.
- Lay a cold pack to the outside of your child's cheek if there is any swelling.
- Gather any pieces to the tooth, and contact our office immediately.
Knocked Out Permanent Tooth
- Seek professional dental care immediately. Call our office, and we'll give you instructions on what to do next.
- Lightly rinse off the tooth with lukewarm water while carefully NOT handling it by the roots.
- If possible, reinsert the tooth and have your child lightly bite down on a cloth or gauze. Otherwise, place the tooth in milk or water during transport.
While you're on your way, encourage your child to avoid spitting or touching the tooth as much as possible.
Bleeding After Baby Tooth Falls Out
The loss of a baby tooth is no cause for alarm, and no emergency treatment is necessary. But if your child experiences any bleeding, here's what you can do:
- Lightly bite on cloth or gauze.
- If bleeding persists longer than 15 minutes, contact our office.
Missing Fillings, Crowns, or Other Dental Restorations
Call our office immediately if you notice that one of your child's fillings or crowns has fallen out. In the meantime, try the following:
- If the tooth is a baby tooth, do nothing. The tooth will eventually fall out on its own.
- Try to put the filling or crown back in place if the tooth is an adult tooth. If you can't put the restoration back in place, bring the tooth to our office anyway.
Torn Gums and Lips
Depending on the severity of the injury, a minor cut to the gum or lip will usually heal on its own within a few days. But if it's deep or there is excessive bleeding, you'll need to call us for emergency dental care. In the meantime, you can:
- Rinse the wound with lukewarm water.
- Apply a cold, wet cloth to help reduce swelling.
- Use a clean, dry cloth to apply pressure to the wound if there is any bleeding.
- Have your child drink over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen if they're in discomfort.
Abscess or Infection
Oral or bacterial infections are extremely rare in children but can occur if your child has an untreated cavity. Call our clinic immediately if you notice any pimple-like bumps on your child's gums. In the meantime, you can:
- Rinse your child's mouth with lukewarm water.
- Apply a cold, wet cloth to the outside of their cheek if there is any swelling.
- Encourage your child to drink cold liquids to help ease any pain.
If your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms, call us or go to the emergency room right away:
- Facial swelling
- Severe pain
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- A fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit
- Feverish and vomits more than once in 24 hours
What if I Can't Reach You?
In the rare cases where you can't reach us and your child is experiencing a dental emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room. They will be able to stabilize your child and provide you with further instructions. You can also try all the at-home remedies mentioned above for a less severe emergency.
We understand that dental emergencies can be scary for both parents and children. But above anything else, don't panic. Stay calm and follow our instructions as you wait for help to arrive. We'll take care of the rest!