Kids & Dental Emergencies
Hopefully, you will never have to deal with a dental emergency with your kids, but knowing what to do just in case can make it a little bit less stressful. I hope this will help you feel more prepared and know what to do if an emergency does happen. Keeping these checklists somewhere you can easily find them will help everyone understand what to do.
Once kids start walking, they fall down and bump into things as they are wobbly, move fast, and don’t always understand that they can get hurt. Of course, every kid is different, so some will be more naturally cautious than others. As parents, we are excited when they take their first step, but we also worry that they will get hurt. When they fall or bump into something, there is the chance of having tooth trauma, a chipped tooth, or even knocking a tooth out altogether. Taking care of an injured baby tooth is essential because if they are not checked and taken care of, the injury/trauma can affect the developing permanent adult tooth growing underneath.
Before any emergency happens, the first step is to take your child to a dentist. Having a regular dentist will help you and your child feel more comfortable. We know an emergency can feel scary for parents and kids, so having a dentist you already know can make everything easier. If you are afraid of the dentist or have had negative experiences in the past, it is important not to share those feelings with your child. To make necessary dental visits as comfortable as possible for your child, don’t share your worries but talk about the dentist in a positive way, and never mention shots or pain. Tell your child that the dentist will help them feel better and have healthy teeth.
At your child’s first dental visit, you will sit knee to knee with the dental provider. The dentist or dental hygienist will look in their mouth to make sure everything is healthy, and then they will apply fluoride varnish. Often children don’t like that part, but it is painless and over in less than a minute. If there are no issues, the dental provider will usually recommend coming back every six months to do the same exam until your little one is ready to sit in the dental chair for their first official preventive cleaning. They will most likely have fun and feel comfortable at their appointments, making it less scary if there ever is a dental emergency.
So, what do you do if your child hurts or knocks out their tooth? If you are not sure what to do, always call your dentist right away. The dental office will be able to help you problem-solve and see if you need to bring them in to evaluate. It is better to call and come in and have nothing wrong than to not go and have an injury that gets worse. If they hit their mouth or tooth on something and you see blood, have them rinse their mouth out with water. Lips and tongues will bleed a lot when injured, so they can look worse than they really are. Try to stay calm. Even if you don’t like blood and it freaks you out, your child can pick up on your anxiousness and feel that way too. If the lip is swollen, apply a cold compress. With any tooth injury, look to see if your child has any other injuries that might require a visit to their pediatrician or even the emergency room. If you aren’t sure how badly they are hurt or don’t know what to do, make that phone call! It is better to be safe than sorry.
If your child has a chipped tooth and there is bleeding, have them rinse their mouth with water. Put a cold compress on the lip to help decrease swelling and bleeding. Save any pieces of the tooth you can find and bring those to the dentist. By finding the pieces, you will be sure your child did not inhale anything into their lungs by mistake.
If an adult or permanent tooth is knocked out, only hold the tooth by the crown, not the root. If the root is dirty, gently rinse it with water. Don’t scrub or wipe it with anything. Put the tooth back in its socket facing the correct direction and have your child bite gently on clean gauze or cloth to hold it in place. If you are unable to do this, put the tooth in milk and bring it to the dental office. The sooner you can get to the dental office, the more likely the tooth can be saved. Thirty minutes or less is ideal. If you can’t find the tooth or chipped part of the tooth, your child will l likely need a chest x-ray to make sure the tooth isn’t in their lungs.
Even though your child will lose their baby teeth, they are still important for eating, self-confidence, and holding the space where the permanent tooth will eventually be. Never try to put a knocked-out baby tooth back in its socket, but as with an adult tooth, look for it to make sure that your child did not. It is always best to call the dental office immediately and be seen right away when your child injures their teeth. There is a chance that an injury to a baby tooth can affect the adult tooth that is growing under the gums.