Accidents Happen: Here's How to Handle a Dental Emergency

How to Handle a Dental Emergency, How to prevent dental emergencies, Foreign object caught in teeth, Bitten or lacerated lip

We all know kids need to see the dentist every six months for cleanings and checkups, just like adults. (Yes, that’s true even if your child’s adult teeth haven’t come in yet.) But between those appointments, it’s easy to put the dentist out of your thoughts — until an issue occurs that requires immediate attention. Dental emergencies can happen to anyone, at any age, and they are especially common among kids who spend a lot of time being physically active at school and participate in organized sports teams, or they can occur when children are just playing with their friends and families.

When we hear the word “emergency,” we tend to think of really serious traumatic events, like an accident that involves having a tooth knocked out, but the fact is, dental emergencies can include lots of issues. Toothaches, swollen gums, chipped teeth, objects lodged between the teeth — pretty much any unusual condition that’s causing pain or dysfunction or just needs to be “fixed” promptly. At Dentistry for Children, we provide state-of-the-art treatment options for all sorts of dental emergencies. Here’s what to do if your child has an emergent care need.

Knocked-out tooth

Have your child rinse their mouth very gently, then see if you can place the tooth back in the socket. Give your child a clean cloth to gently bite down on to hold the tooth in place. If you can’t place the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a container of milk and bring it with you to the office. If our office is closed, head to the nearest emergency department.

Chipped or fractured tooth

Have your child gently rinse their mouth, then see if you can find the broken part of the tooth. If you can, wrap it in a clean cloth or paper towel so you can bring it with you to the office. Our team is skilled in restorations that can help your child’s tooth look like “new” while also preventing further damage like decay or infection.

Bitten or lacerated lip or tongue

If your child bites or cuts their lip, place a cold compress on the injury to help reduce pain and swelling. Have your child keep the head elevated as well. Depending on the severity of the injury, your child may need stitches. Call the office for further instructions.

Foreign object caught in teeth

First, see if you can gently dislodge the object using dental floss, or if there’s no floss available, using a toothpick. Don’t ever use any type of sharp implement to try to remove the object, and don’t use anything made of plastic that could wind up breaking off or injuring the gum or tooth and causing more problems. If you can’t dislodge the object, call the office. We have special instruments that can remove foreign objects without harming your child’s gums or their other teeth.

No matter what type of dental emergency your child is dealing with, the first step toward making sure they get the right care is to call our office right away. If it’s after hours, you can call our emergency number for further instructions.

How to prevent dental emergencies

Let’s face it: A lot of accidents are difficult to prevent. But there are some things you can do to reduce the impact of an accident, at least as far your child’s teeth are concerned. First, if your child plays any type of sport, look into getting a mouth guard. Today, mouth guards are smaller, more lightweight, and just more comfortable than mouth guards from when you were a kid, and they provide a lot of critically important protection. 

Second, be sure your child’s oral hygiene habits are optimized. That means regular brushing and flossing using proper techniques, limiting sugary snacks and drinks, and seeing the dentist for routine checkups and cleanings. Why is this all important? Because healthy teeth are strong teeth, and that means they’re less likely to be damaged by relatively minor bumps and bangs.

If your child plays a sport or if it's been a while since their last checkup at Dentistry for Children, don't put off their next visit. Book an appointment online today.

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