Teeth issues are never fun. For children, they can be scary, stressful, and overwhelming. Unfortunately, many children will, at one point or another, have some kind of dental emergency. Accidents happen, after all. If your child finds himself or herself in the throes of a dental emergency, it is good to be educated in what to do when faced with an oral issue.
Aside from making sure that your child’s dentist’s contact info is programmed into your phone, here are a few ways to handle some common pediatric dental emergencies:
The Loss of a Permanent Tooth
Unlike baby teeth, permanent teeth are, well, permanent. If your child loses a permanent tooth, contact his or her dentist immediately. While you are gearing up to head to the dentist, it is important to keep the tooth wet. If it is not too painful for your child, and if you do not fear that he or she will swallow it, place the tooth back into the socket that it fell out of.
If the pain is too severe to put the tooth into the socket, place the tooth between your child’s cheek and gums or in a cup of milk. This is to ensure that the tooth does not dry out as permanent teeth can be replanted into the mouth if the problem is addressed in a timely manner.
Cracked or Chipped Teeth
If your child cracks or chips his or her tooth, if you can find it, place the cracked or chipped piece into a cup of milk. Contact your child’s dentist immediately. Sometimes, reattachment of the cracked or chipped piece is possible.
Lip, Cheek, or Tongue Cuts or Bites
First, apply direct pressure to the wound in question to help stop the bleeding. Next, for swelling, a cold compress or a popsicle should be applied to the wound. If the injury is severe and seems to require stitches, head to the emergency room to get the wound taken care of as quickly as possible.
A warm rinse with saltwater can help sooth a child’s toothache, while a cold compress can help with swelling. For the pain, administer a child-appropriate dose of Ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Finally, visit your pediatric dentist if the pain lasts longer than one day so that he or she can diagnose and treat the cause of the toothache.
For any objects stuck in the mouth or teeth, gently try to remove them with floss. Do not use a sharp instrument. Go to the emergency room or to your child’s dentist as soon as possible.
Children fall. However, if you child falls and hits his or her head or face, it is best to lean on the side of caution and head to the emergency room instead of a pediatric dentist. Having your child assessed for a possible head injury is more time-sensitive than any tooth injuries that may have occurred in the fall.
Avoiding Dental Emergencies
While some emergencies are unavoidable, there are certain things that you can do to protect your child from certain dental emergencies:
- For certain recreational activities, have your child wear a mouthguard and, if applicable, a helmet.
- Teach your child how to properly use scissors and to never use his or her teeth to open or cut things.
- Do not let your child run around with objects in his or her mouth (utensils, toothbrushes, pencils, pens, etc.).
- Use gates in the home to block young children from certain dangerous areas that could be considered trip hazards (stairways, steps, etc.).
- Teach your child about a proper dental health routine and make daily brushing and flossing a fun activity that you do together.
- Have your child visit his or her dentist every six months to ensure that your child’s teeth are strong and healthy.
During a dental emergency, remember to stay calm. You child is likely scared, confused, and in pain. Help him or her by remaining calm through deep-breathing. Most dental emergencies can be fixed quickly by a pediatric dentist. If you do not have a permanent pediatric dentist for your child, find one immediately as having a good relationship with your child’s dentist can greatly help you in the case of a dental emergency.