Tips for Dealing with Dental Emergencies at Home
By Elizabeth Bortell, D.D.S., Director of Pediatric Dentistry
Dental emergencies often occur without warning, yet most are preventable. Many dental emergencies can be prevented by regular dental visits, adult supervision and athletic mouthguards. It is important to know how to handle a dental emergency when it occurs. The following tips are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
- Broken Permanent Tooth: Have the child rinse with warm water to remove any dirt. Place ice on the face in the area of injury. Try to locate and save any broken tooth fragments. Seek dental attention immediately!
- Knocked-Out Permanent Front Tooth: Find the tooth. Hold the tooth by the part that shows in the mouth, not the root. You may rinse the tooth in water but do not scrub the tooth. Try to put the tooth back into the socket. Have the child hold the tooth in place by gently biting on a clean cloth. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, put the tooth in a cup of milk. See a dentist immediately!
- Bleeding After a Baby Tooth Falls Out: Place a clean cloth or gauze over the bleeding area and have the child bite with pressure for 15 minutes. Repeat, if necessary. If bleeding persists, see a dentist.
- Toothache: First, gently clean the area near the sore tooth with a toothbrush and use dental floss to dislodge trapped food. Next, have the child rinse with warm salt water. DO NOT place aspirin on the tooth or the gum because irritation will occur. If the child’s face is swollen, apply a cold compress. An over-the-counter children’s pain reliever can be given. See a dentist as soon as possible.
- Tongue, Lip or Cheek Injury: Clean the injured area and apply ice immediately. If bleeding is present, apply direct pressure with a clean cloth. If bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes of direct pressure, take the child to a hospital emergency room.
- Broken Braces and Wires: If the broken appliance can easily be removed, take it out. Loose or broken appliances, which do not bother the child, don’t require emergency attention. However, if a sharp portion is hurting the child, cover the portion with dental wax, cotton balls, gauze or chewing gum. If a wire is stuck in the gums, tongue or cheek, DO NOT remove it. See a dentist immediately.
- Cold (Canker) Sores: Children may occasionally get cold or canker sores. Over-the-counter medications give relief. If sores persist inside or outside of the mouth, or occur regularly, see a dentist.
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The information on this site is provided for informational and educational purposes only; it does not contain specific medical advice. If you have specific health questions or problems, consult a health care professional for personal medical advice.