We take dental emergencies seriously and we always have a dentist on call. If your child experiences a concerning dental problem outside of regular office hours, please call our office and the voicemail will provide you with the on-call phone number. Many times these problems can be discussed over the phone and your child can be treated during normal office hours when we have our full compliment of staff. However, we will make arrangements to see your child if the emergency needs immediate attention.
Below is a list of some of the most common dental emergencies and what you should do in each instance.
Bitten Lip or Cheek
If your child has bitten their lip or cheek severely enough to cause bleeding, clean the area 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.
Broken, Chipped, or Fractured Tooth
If your child chips or breaks a tooth, have them rinse their mouth with warm water, then use a cold compress to reduce swelling. Try to locate and save the tooth fragment that broke off and place it in water. Often times this broken piece can be reattached. Give us a call to determine how quickly your child needs to be seen.
Knocked Out Tooth
This is a true emergency. If your child’s tooth has been knocked out of their mouth, find the tooth and gently rinse it with water (no soap), taking care to only touch the crown of the tooth. Do not touch the root. Please place the tooth back in the socket (if possible) and have the child hold it in place with their finger until you get to our office. If this is not possible, place the tooth in a clean container with milk. Call us immediately and/or head to the hospital. If you act quickly, it is possible to save the tooth. We generally do not re-implant baby teeth as it can potentially damage the developing permanent tooth.
If your child complains of a toothache, rinse his mouth with warm water and inspect his 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.
Permanent Tooth Erupting While the Baby Tooth is Still in Place
This is a very common occurrence with tooth eruption and it may be uncomfortable for your child. We advise Tylenol or ibuprofen as needed for pain and avoidance of chewing on that side of the mouth. We will remove the baby tooth if it does not fall out by itself. Your child should be encouraged to keep “wiggling” the baby tooth.
Injuries to Baby Teeth
Young children are prone to falls and injuries. Unfortunately, their coordination is not always as advanced as their desire to play. Often times they cannot get their hands out to protect their mouth when they fall. In most cases these injuries look much worse than they are and they seldom require intervention. However, treatment is necessary if a tooth has been displaced into a position that interferes with the child’s ability to bite down properly.
You can help your child avoid dental emergencies. Child-proof your house to avoid falls. Do not let your child chew on ice, popcorn kernels, or other hard foods. Always use car seats for young children and require seat belts for older children. If your child plays contact sports, have them 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.