Dental Emergency Kids get into all sorts of scrapes, and dental injuries are common among children, typically sustained in falls, sports or fights. Even if your youngster manages to avoid these issues, other urgent situations such as sudden onset of toothache can also give you a dental emergency to cope with.

While a child’s urgent dental situation is upsetting for parents, it’s important to stay as calm as possible. If your child suffers an oral injury or other mishap, knowing how to deal with it can go a long way in preventing long-term damage.

If in doubt about the seriousness of the incident, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible.

We’ve put together this Pediatric Dental Emergency Guide1 to help parents handle common dental crises that kids fall victim to.

My Child Has Knocked Out a Permanent Tooth

If the tooth is intact, try to put it back in its socket, without forcing it. Handle it by the crown, not the root, to avoid tissue damage. Get your child to bite down on a piece of gauze to help hold the tooth in position.

If you cannot reinsert the tooth, the best chance of saving it is if it’s re-implanted by a dentist within one hour. Ahead of your child’s emergency pediatric appointment, keep the tooth moist by one of the following methods:

  • Place it in a cup of water with a pinch of salt.
  • Put it in a small container of milk.
  • Use a tooth preservation product with the American Dental Association2 (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.

What If My Child Cracks or Dislodges a Tooth?

In cases of a cracked or dislodged tooth, rinse your child’s mouth with warm water to clean the area. Apply a cold compress to the face to reduce swelling. Use gauze to staunch any bleeding. See your pediatric dentist as soon as possible.

My Child Has Bitten Their Tongue

Although the tongue is fairly tough, when damaged, it can be painful and swell and may bleed a lot. A severe injury to the tongue can also become infected. Try to take your youngster to a dentist the same day. Meanwhile, get them to suck on an ice cube. Packing gauze onto the area and applying pressure will minimize bleeding.

What Can I Do If My Child Gets Toothache?

If your youngster develops a toothache, call your pediatric dentist and explain the symptoms. Rinse your child’s mouth with warm water. Hold an icepack to their face – don’t use any source of heat like a hot-water bottle, which can aggravate the problem. You could also try to gently floss around the tooth to remove any bits of food that may have accumulated.

My Child’s Got a Foreign Object Stuck in Their Teeth!

If your youngster gets an object lodged between their teeth, it can trigger a foreign-body response from their immune system, resulting in inflammation. Use dental floss to try to gently remove the object. Don’t use a sharp instrument to try to prize it out – this can damage their teeth and gums.

When to Seek Professional Dental Emergency Help

It can be difficult in unforeseen circumstances for parents to decide whether their youngster should get emergency treatment for a dental problem.

It’s recommended that children with any of the following symptoms should be assessed by a medical professional. Depending on the circumstances, this can be done over the phone, at the dental office, or in an emergency room.

  • Loose or broken tooth following injury.
  • Missing tooth, which could have been swallowed.
  • Jaw pain when opening or closing the mouth.
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing.
  • Object stuck in the mouth.
  • Large cut to the face or inside the mouth.
  • Slurred speech or blurred vision.
  • Signs of infections such as redness and/or swelling.
  • Neck stiffness or pain.
  • Fever (temperature over 38C/100F).

Depending on the dental injury, X-rays or digital scans may be needed to determine:

  • Any bone fractures.
  • Damage to a tooth root.
  • Damage to a blood vessel.
  • Whether a foreign body has been inhaled or swallowed.

Pediatric Dental Emergency Treatment for Primary Teeth and Permanent Teeth

The type of emergency treatment for children’s dental injuries depends on the nature of the damage and whether the affected tooth is a primary (baby) or permanent (adult) tooth.

Primary Teeth

The most common injury to baby teeth affects the front teeth. Treatment of these injuries concentrates on preventing future damage to the permanent teeth.

A loose baby tooth will typically heal without treatment. A very loose primary tooth may need to be extracted to avoid the possibility of it falling out and causing the child to choke, particularly while sleeping.

If a primary tooth is knocked out, it should not be placed back, because of the risk of damage to the permanent tooth that will follow. Losing a front baby tooth early is usually not a cause for major concern.

Permanent Teeth

Permanent teeth do not generally emerge before six to seven years. The following cases involving adult teeth should be regarded as emergencies requiring prompt attention from a pediatric dentist.

  • Knocked-out permanent tooth. The likelihood that the tooth will survive is reduced the longer it is out of the mouth.
  • Loose adult tooth that’s interfering with your child’s bite. In most cases, the tooth can be returned to its correct position and monitored over time.
  • Broken permanent tooth that’s sensitive to hot or cold. These teeth can generally be repaired successfully.

Where to Find Emergency Dental Care for Your Child

Dental accidents can happen to children anytime, anyplace. Knowing what to do as a parent if your child suffers a dental emergency can mean the difference between saving their teeth and serious damage to their appearance and health.

With prompt treatment and regular aftercare, most youngsters recover completely from oral injuries. The best person to handle your child’s dental emergency is their own pediatric dentist. Look for a pediatric dental practice that reserves time in its schedule for treating emergency patients.