Pediatric Dental EmergenciesWhat You Need to Know
Accidents happen. Kids are adventurous and are always on the move. It’s an essential part of the growing up process which sometimes results in falls and bumps. Unfortunately, traumatic dental injuries cannot always be foreseen or avoided but knowing what to do in a dental emergency can help you ensure the best possible outcome during a dental emergency.
If your child is experiencing a dental emergency, call us right away. We are always here to help you and will your see child right away during our normal business hours. After hours, please call our emergency line so that we can see your child promptly.
Bitten Lip or Tongue
Tongue bites are common, and most heal on their own. You can apply ice to reduce swelling and monitor for signs of infection until the wound heals. If bleeding is present, take a clean washcloth or gauze, wet it with cold water, squeeze excess moisture and firmly press the washcloth against the injured area until the bleeding stops. If the bite appears significant or if the bleeding persists, give us a call so that we could evaluate the bite and determine whether any additional treatment is needed.
Object Caught In Teeth
The most common pediatric dental emergencies result from either food or another object, such as popcorn hull, stuck between the child’s teeth. Often, the gum around these teeth swells up causing significant discomfort. Usually, the object can be gently removed with dental floss. Avoid using metal, plastic, or sharp tools to remove a stuck object. If gentle flossing does not do the trick, give us a call.
Broken, Chipped, or Fractured Permanent Tooth
If your child takes a fall and breaks or chips a permanent tooth, call us right away. Quick action can save the tooth, prevent infection, and reduce the need for extensive dental care in the future. Have your child rinse the mouth with warm water and apply a cold compress to the face to reduce potential swelling. Try to locate the tooth fragment that broke off and bring it with you to your emergency dental visit.
Loose Permanent Tooth
If a permanent tooth moves or becomes loose due to trauma, apply a cold compress to the face to prevent swelling and call our office right away. The tooth may move into the right position and stabilize on its own or may require a stent to keep it in place. Do not try to reposition the tooth yourself or put any pressure on the tooth to try to move it into the right position.
Knocked Out Permanent Tooth
If your child’s tooth has been knocked out, the time is of the essence. Find the knocked out tooth and rinse it with cool water. Do not use soap or any other cleaning agents. Hold the tooth by the crown (the part that is normally visible when in place) and avoid scrubbing or unnecessarily handling the tooth. Examine the tooth to make sure it’s intact and, if possible, reinsert the intact tooth into the socket. If it’s not possible, place the tooth between the child’s lower back teeth and the cheek or carry it in a clean container with the child’s saliva and cold milk. Apply a cold pack to the face to reduce potential swelling. Call our office immediately or head to your nearest emergency room. If proper treatment is provided immediately, it may be possible to save your child’s tooth.
Knocked Out or Loose Baby Tooth
Unfortunately, primary (baby) teeth cannot be repositioned or re-implanted. If one of your child’s primary teeth has been pushed in or knocked out, you will want to schedule a visit to our practice as soon as possible so that your dentist can ensure that there are no fragments of tooth remaining in the bone and that no other teeth have been compromised.
Loose Baby Tooth
Most baby teeth become loose because it’s time for them to come out. If your child has a very loose tooth, it should be removed to avoid being swallowed or inhaled. If you are not sure whether the loose tooth is a baby tooth or if a tooth is loose following a traumatic incident, bring the child to our office for an evaluation. This is usually not an emergency unless the child is experiencing a significant discomfort.
If your child complains of a toothache, rinse the child’s mouth with warm water and gently floss to make sure that there is nothing stuck between them. If pain continues, call us right away. Meanwhile, apply a cold compress or an ice pack to the face for 15 minutes and repeat every 30 minutes to relieve the pain and reduce any potential swelling. Do not place any medications, such as aspirin, or any topical pain reliever directly to the affected area, as this can cause damage to the gums and increase pain. You may give your child any oral pain relievers, typically the same medications that you would give them for a cold or flu, such as Infant/Children’s Tylenol or Motrin.
Broken jaws are often accompanied by other facial and dental trauma as well as concussions and other potentially life-threatening issues. If you suspect your child has sustained a broken jaw, usually a result of a blow to the face, head to your nearest emergency room. Place a cold compress on the affected area to reduce swelling and pain.
You cannot always prevent dental emergencies or trauma, but you can take some steps to minimize the risk. Child-proof your house as soon as your baby starts to crawl to avoid falls. Don’t let your child chew on ice, popcorn kernels, sticky or hard candy, and other hard objects. Always use car seats for young children and require seatbelts for older children. Keep an eye on your child in the pool, even if he or she is a good swimmer, to make sure that there is no roughhousing in the pool and remind them that walking wrapped in a long towel is unsafe and can cause a child to trip and fall. If you have a young athlete growing up in your house, make sure that he or wears a sports guard for any contact sports. You will need to check the sports guard periodically to ensure a good fit. Ask us about creating a custom-fitted sports guard for your child. Some sports require stronger protection than others, and we can help you figure out the right guard for your young athlete. Finally, prevent toothaches with regular brushing, flossing, and regular visits to the dentist.