Emergency Dental Care for Children

Hopefully this falls into that “Things You Know but Hopefully Never Have to Use” category, but it’s better to be prepared for your child’s dental emergency than to scramble if it actually happens.

First and foremost, it’s important to have a family dentist you can trust who also has emergency care after hours.  If you can’t get a hold of your dentist within half an hour of the incident, visit the hospital’s emergency room.

Always seek professional help, but in the meantime, here are a few things you can do for the following emergencies:

Broken Tooth:

Recover any broken tooth fragments that you can, and then rinse your mouth with warm salt water.  If your child has any pain, you can administer ibuprofen and put a cold compress over the facial area of the injury.

Missing Tooth:

If the missing tooth is a baby tooth, then there is no need to keep the tooth.  Dentists will not restore the actual tooth to avoid damage to the permanent tooth below.  They may opt for a spacer to avoid overcrowding before the permanent tooth is ready to erupt.

If your child loses a permanent tooth, find the tooth if possible and hold it by the crown rather than the root. Replace the tooth in the socket, and hold it in place with a clean gauze or washcloth.  If you can’t replace the tooth in the socket, store it in a clean container with milk until you reach the dentist.  The sooner you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth!

Broken Braces or Wires:

If the broken piece comes out easily (and we mean really easily – no tugging or pulling!), remove it.  If you can’t remove it but the broken pieces are poking other areas of the mouth, cover the protruding edges with wax, cotton balls, gauze, or sugarless gum. If the broken wire has caused any sores in your child’s mouth, have them rinse it out with warm salt water.  You can also use an over-the-counter pain reliever.

If the broken appliance isn’t causing any physical pain or discomfort, it generally does not require emergency medical attention, but you should seek help as soon as possible because broken braces or wires will not help move the teeth.

Bitten Lip, Tongue, or Cheek

Apply firm pressure with sterile gauze or a clean cloth to reduce bleeding. Ice can be applied to the outside facial area for any bruises.  Because the mouth is quick to heal itself, most wounds will be treated to reduce the risk of infection, but won’t require any further action.