Dental emergencies can happen at any time. Knowing what to do when they arise can make a big difference in saving a tooth and/or comforting the child. Here is a quick summary of the most common dental emergencies and the appropriate actions to take.
Objects caught between teeth:
- Try to gently remove the object with dental floss.
- Call your dentist if unable to remove the object.
- An over-the-counter analgesic such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given for pain.
- DO NOT place aspirin on the gum or on the aching tooth. Contact your dentist.
- Apply direct pressure with a clean cloth or a moist tea bag to the area involved.
- If bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes or it cannot be controlled by simple pressure, take the child to a hospital emergency room or urgent care.
Fractured or broken tooth:
- Rinse dirt from injured area with warm water.
- Control any bleeding by applying gauze to the area and contact your dentist immediately.
- Locate and bring all broken tooth fragments to your appointment.
Knocked-out baby tooth:
- Do not place the baby tooth back into the socket. It may cause problems with the development of the permanent tooth.
- Call your dentist and apply gauze to the area for about 15 minutes to control bleeding.
Knocked-out permanent tooth:
- Find the tooth. Handle the tooth by the crown (the white part), not the root (the yellow part).
- Reinsert immediately, if possible.
- If the tooth is dirty, rinse it shortly and gently with cold tap water. DO NOT scrub or remove any tissue from the tooth. DO NOT handle the tooth unnecessarily
- Hold the tooth in place. Have the child hold the tooth in place by biting on clean gauze or cloth.
- If it’s not possible to put the tooth back into it’s socket, store the tooth in a cup of cold milk. If milk is not available, use saline or have the child spit saliva into a cup and place the injured tooth in the cup, or store the tooth in the cheek of the child’s mouth. Avoid water as a transport medium.
- Seek specialized dental treatment immediately. Knocked out teeth having the greatest chance of being saved are those seen by a dentist and returned to the socket within one hour.
Possible broken jaw:
- Go immediately to the emergency room.
- Immobilize the jaw and apply a cold compress to control swelling.
Broken braces and wires:
- Loose or broken appliances which do not bother the child don’t usually require emergency attention.
- If a broken appliance can be removed easily, take it out. If it cannot, cover the sharp portion with dental wax or a pencil eraser.
- If a wire is stuck in the gums, cheek or tongue, bring the child to their orthodontist or dentist.