Accidents Happen. Knowing how to best handle a dental emergency can make the difference between saving and losing a tooth. Please feel free to call our office as soon as an accident occurs so we can help. In the event of an after-hours dental emergency, there is a doctor on call and can be reached by calling the office. You may need to leave a message (text or voice). The doctor will try to call back as soon as possible. We encourage you to call at the first sign that something is wrong so that we can help. Please use your judgement and go to the emergency room or call 911 for emergencies too great to be handled in a dental office setting.
Bitten Lip, Tongue, or Cheek
If your child has bitten their lip or tongue severely enough to cause bleeding, clean the bite 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.
If your child is experiencing swelling or what you think may be an abscessed tooth, apply cold compresses to the affected area and call our office as soon as possible for an examination. Swelling of the face can be a sign of a serious infection that requires immediate attention. If the swelling can be seen on their face, we recommend to go to the emergency room. Feel free to give us a call teo determine. If the swelling is small, give us a call, as we can help. We want to alleviate that discomfort so they feel happy and healthy again.
Broken, Chipped, or Fractured Tooth
If your child has chipped or broken a piece off of their 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. Call us immediately.
Knocked Out Tooth
If a baby tooth is knocked out do not try to place it back in the mouth. By doing so, this can lead to the risk of damaging the developing permanent tooth. Instead, let the child place the tooth under their pillow for the tooth fairy and give them a cold treat, such as a Popsicle (this reduces swelling) Although it is normal for children to lose baby teeth, we recommend you make an appointment to ensure there’s no subsequent damage to the permanent teeth and there are no remnants of the baby tooth still left.
Unlike a baby tooth that is knocked out, adult teeth should be placed back into the socket as soon as possible. Time is a critical factor. Please follow these steps recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry to save a knocked-out permanent tooth:
1. Locate the tooth immediately; do not leave it at the site of the accident. Pick up the tooth by the crown (the chewing surface) NOT the root. The tooth should be handled carefully. Touch only the crown to minimize injury to the root. If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse the tooth with water only. Do not scrub or dry the tooth.
2. Reposition the tooth in the socket immediately, if possible. The sooner the tooth is replaced, the greater the likelihood it will survive. To reinsert, carefully push the tooth into the socket with your fingers. Hold the tooth in place with your fingers or by gently biting down on it. Double check to make sure the tooth is properly placed.
3. Keep the tooth moist at all times. The tooth must not be left outside the mouth to dry. If it cannot be replaced in the socket, put it in one of the following:
- Emergency tooth preservation kit (such as Save-a-Tooth®)
- Milk or saliva in a cup
- If the child is old enough, the tooth may be carried in their mouth (next to cheek)
- Regular tap water is not recommended for long-term storage because the root surface cells do not tolerate water for long periods of time. Only use water if none of the options listed above are possible.
4. Contact the office as soon as possible so that the tooth may be properly re-implanted back into the dental socket and stabilized.
Seeing your child in pain is something we never want to see. If your child has a consistent toothache, this will require a visit to our office. We will help you determine what your child needs to feel comfortable again. In the meantime, try these home techniques: Clean the area of the affected tooth thoroughly. You can rinse their mouth with warm salt water. Using dental floss to dislodge impacted food or debris also provides relief. DO NOT place aspirin on the gum or on the aching tooth. Also, applying heat is not recommended. Give your child what you would normally give them for pain, such as Tylenol or Motrin.
You can help your child avoid dental emergencies. Child-proof your house to avoid falls. Don't 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. And 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.