If your child experiences a tooth injury, you may not be sure what to do. Is it considered an emergency? Should you wait to get in to see your child’s dentist? Dallas County resident, Shareese Rowland, was faced with these exact questions as she watched her son knock out his two front permanent teeth in a scooter accident. Seeing your child in pain is frightening, and as parents, we want to act as quickly as possible. Tooth injuries can range in severity from a minor or major chip to a displaced tooth to a fully dislodged (avulsed) tooth. Both baby teeth and permanent teeth can be affected or injured. Whether your child takes a spill riding their bike or a sharp elbow to the mouth on the basketball court, it’s a scary situation for any parent to navigate. In the case of Ms. Rowland’s son Clive, it was most certainly an emergency! Luckily she was able to see DCDS members Dr. Frank Higginbottom and his son-in-law, orthodontist, Dr. Michael Fesler immediately. Together they were able to be the “couple of heroes saving the day” for Shareese and her son, and Clive’s teeth were placed back in their rightful place. The Dallas County Dental Society (DCDS) and our members have seen many teeth injuries and share some tips on what to do if you find yourself in this situation with your child.
If a baby tooth is knocked out
If your child loses a baby tooth, the situation is significantly less urgent. However, it’s still imperative to contact your pediatric dentist as soon as possible. Help you child rinse their mouth out with clean water, and use cold compresses to help with pain and swelling. Offering an ice pop is an easy way to help your child get some relief from the pain if cold compresses are a bit too challenging to manage. If needed, administer acetaminophen or ibuprofen appropriate to your child’s age and weight. Because this situation is just as scary for your child as it is for you, comfort your little one and give lots of extra hugs and cuddles.
A permanent tooth is knocked out
If your child dislodges a permanent tooth, this is considered a dental emergency. Find the tooth, and rinse it with cold water. If you can’t place the tooth back into the socket, place it in a clean container with either cold milk or your child’s saliva. Do not put it in the container with water. Contact your pediatric dentist immediately.
A tooth is chipped, broken or loosened
If the tooth is chipped or broken, try to find the broken pieces if possible. Contact your child’s pediatric dentist immediately. Acting quickly lessens the risk of infection and increases the odds of saving the tooth. Help your child rinse out their mouth with clean water. If there is bleeding, have your child bite down on a small piece of gauze or hold the gauze in place to stop the bleeding. Apply a cold compress to reduce pain and swelling. Your child’s dentist will assess the damage and take the appropriate action. Sharp edges may need to be smoothed out, and a loose tooth may be able to be repositioned. However, if the damage is significant, your dentist may recommend extraction.
When faced with a tooth injury, immediate action is always the best option. Treating your child’s tooth injury may be unnerving at first, but now armed with the right information, you can be confident in your ability to safely handle the situation and get your child the dental care they need.