Kids sure can be full of surprises. From what they say to the things they do, it can leave parents scratching their heads, wondering what will come next. And though many of these surprises can be fun and full of wonderment, some of those surprises can be downright scary. These scary surprises occur more often than we’d like, including those dental emergencies.
We can all picture it, can’t we? Children running across the pavement in excitement while playing a game of tag, only to lose their footing and fall flat on their face. While we can hope that such a fall won’t result in an injury, these types of falls often result in a knocked-out tooth, which happens to be one of the most common dental emergencies. But what do parents do when an emergency like this arises?
Most Common Children’s Dental Emergencies
Let’s start by understanding the 5 most common children’s dental emergencies and what you should do when these situations occur.
1. Knocked-out Tooth
We’ll start with our example from above: the knocked-out tooth. If this happens, the first thing to do is comfort your child and control the bleeding. Next, locate the tooth as quickly as possible, but avoid touching the root. Clean the tooth with plain water only (no soap). If possible, and if it is not a baby tooth, reinsert the tooth into the socket. If you can’t reinsert the tooth, have your child bite down on some gauze while you store the tooth in some cold milk. Contact your primary dentist right away for the next steps. Most dentists will have emergency instructions on their office line, informing you of what to do in the event of a common dental emergency.
2. Loose Tooth That is Still in Place.
For a loose tooth that is still in place, you should avoid touching the tooth or moving it as this can cause further damage. A tooth that has been displaced can result in the tooth being pushed up (intrusion) or pushed out (extrusion), and therefore it is best left alone until a dentist can assess the situation and determine the next best steps. If a baby tooth has been knocked loose, but the tooth is still hanging on, your kid’s dentist may attempt to gently reposition the tooth if the displacement is minor. In many situations, spontaneous repositioning takes place on its own, and there are no long-term complications.
Parents will need to observe the tooth for damage over several weeks if the injury is minor. Children must avoid eating hard or crunchy foods for the next week to two weeks and will need to return to the dentist for a follow-up. If there is severe tooth displacement, tooth extraction may be required to prevent pain and infection.
3. Chipped or Fractured Tooth
If your child has sustained a facial injury that includes a chipped or fractured tooth, it can be traumatizing to the child and the parent. But the important thing here is not to panic. Whether the fracture or chip is from an injury or tooth decay, it should be evaluated by a pediatric dentist or emergency kids’ dentist to determine the best course of action.
In the meantime, find the fragment of the tooth and wrap it in gauze or a paper towel so that you can bring it with you to the dentist. Rinse your child’s mouth with a warm salt water rinse, and then use a cold compress on the injured area. Next, have your child take an over-the-counter medication to help reduce inflammation and manage their pain and discomfort. Then, contact your dentist to coordinate an emergency visit.
Toothaches in children can come on from many things, but in most cases, they are caused by an infection inside the tooth. That said, regardless of the cause, tooth pain can be excruciating, and as a parent, you will want to do anything you can to treat your child’s toothache. One of the most effective methods is to have your child rinse with a warm salt water mix, consisting of approximately one teaspoon of salt in a small cup of warm water. Have your child rinse for as long as possible, up to 30 seconds, before spitting out the mixture. You can also give your child an over-the-counter pain reliever. Just be sure you follow the recommended dosage for children as provided by the manufacturer. These methods will only be temporary solutions and you should still book your child in to see their dentist to have their toothache checked out.
5. Injury to Lip, Cheek, Tongue, or Jaw
In most cases, trauma to the lip, cheek, or tongue looks far worse than it is, and this is simply due to the number of blood vessels in the mouth and facial area. But, regardless of the type of injury that your child has sustained, you should contact your dentist right away to determine the next steps. In most cases, your dentist will want to conduct an X-ray to ensure there are no jaw, root, or teeth fractures. In the meantime, apply a cold compress to the affected area. If you suspect head trauma, call an ambulance or seek the closest emergency room, especially if your child is vomiting, has uncontrolled bleeding, or loses consciousness. If your child’s jaw is affected and you suspect an injury, do not attempt to move it—contact an emergency dentist and wait for specific instructions.
Seek a pediatric dental team you can trust with common dental emergencies.
We know that dental emergencies are scary. And we also know that you want the best kids’ dentist in Plano, Texas, for your child. So if you’re in the greater Plano area, we’d love to be that resource for you. We provide expert dental care to children of all ages, and we invite you to become a part of our extended family of patients. Request an appointment today, and we look forward to seeing you in our office.