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Dealing with dental emergencies at home

Published by , on Mar 10, 2019

Your child is experiencing a dental emergency…What now? First, stay calm so you can comfort them and address the situation promptly. Then, follow the tips below. If you have concerns that the injury is serious in nature, call your dentist immediately or visit the emergency department.

Young boy with missing tooth

(It’s a good idea to keep this list handy so you can refer to it if the need arises in the future.)

Broken permanent tooth

  • Rinse with warm water to remove any dirt, blood or other debris.
  • Place ice or a cold compress on the face in the area of injury.
  • Try to locate and save any broken tooth fragments.
  • Seek dental attention immediately.

Knocked-out permanent front tooth

  • Find the tooth and hold it by the part that typically shows when smiling, not the root.
  • Rinse the tooth in water if dirt is visible, but don’t scrub it.
  • Try to put the tooth back into the socket and have your child hold the tooth in place by gently biting on a clean cloth. If you can’t put the tooth back in place, put it in a cup of cold milk until you can get to the dentist.
  • See a dentist immediately.

Bleeding after a baby tooth falls out

  • Place a clean cloth or gauze over the bleeding area and have your child bite with pressure for 15 minutes.
  • Repeat as needed.
  • If bleeding persists, call the dentist.

Toothache

  • Gently clean the area near the sore tooth with a toothbrush and use dental floss to dislodge any trapped food.
  • Have your child rinse with warm salt water.
  • DO NOT place aspirin on the tooth or the gum as it may cause irritation. An over-the-counter children’s pain reliever can be given per the directions on the package for their weight.
  • See a dentist as soon as possible.
  • If your child’s face is swollen, apply a cold compress and contact a dentist immediately or go to the emergency room.

Tongue, lip or cheek injury 

  • Clean the injured area and apply ice or a cold compress immediately.
  • If there’s bleeding, apply direct pressure with a clean cloth. If bleeding doesn’t stop after 15 minutes of direct pressure, take your child to the emergency room.

Broken braces and wires

  • If the broken part can be removed easily, take it out.
  • If the loose or broken piece isn’t bothering your child, it doesn’t require emergency attention. If a sharp portion is causing pain, cover it with dental wax, cotton balls, gauze or chewing gum.
  • If a wire is stuck in the gums, tongue or cheek, DO NOT remove it. See a dentist immediately.

Cold (canker) sores

  • Try over-the-counter medications to provide relief.
  • They will usually last about two weeks.
  • If sores persist inside or outside the mouth or occur regularly, see a dentist.

Ongoing care and protection

Don’t forget to remind your child to protect their teeth on a regular basis. They should wear a mouth guard when playing sports or participating in other activities that could cause injury. It’s also important to remind them not to chew on ice, hard candy or other hard foods that could cause cracks or breaks in teeth.

Our pediatric dentists have specialized training in treating the dental needs of all children from birth to age 21.

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