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Common dental emergencies and tips for dealing with them – dental trauma in children

Common dental emergencies and tips for dealing with them - dental trauma in children

Skinned hands and knees, broken bones, chipped teeth… These common injuries are all too well known  to most parents. It is a truly terrifying feeling when your child suffers some type of injury, leading to tears and a great deal of anxiety. Fortunately, most injuries sustained by children can be managed at home with adequate care. However, as is the case with many dental injuries, certain times call for emergency health care. In this article, we’ll prepare parents by discussing the five most common dental injuries sustained by children, and how they should be handled.

1. Tooth Fracture


When a child’s tooth fractures, you will notice a crack in the crown, the visible part of the tooth. These fractures can have varying levels of severity, some being hardly noticeable with others being quite serious. Tooth fractures are usually painful accompanied by odd sensations, such as numbness or tingling. It can also result in laxity, or looseness, around the tooth.


In the event of a tooth fracture a dentist should be consulted as soon as possible to determine the severity and appropriate course of treatment. Prior to the emergency dental visit, rinse your child’s mouth out with warm water, but do not use salt or mouthwash. Make sure to place a cold compress on your child’s face where the injury occurred. If the pain is bad enough, you can administer a child’s pain medication, such as acetaminophen. 


2. Knocked-out Tooth


This injury is exactly what it sounds like: the tooth is completely dislodged from the socket. It usually is a result of a type of blunt force, such as a fall or hit in the face. 


As you prepare to head out for your emergency dental evaluation, it is critical to keep the tooth wet. While some dentists recommend having the child keep the tooth in their mouth between their gum and cheek, there can be a concern that they would swallow the tooth. In that case, place the tooth in a glass of milk or enclose it in an ADA-approved tooth preservation product.


3. Tooth Intrusion


A tooth intrusion occurs when your child’s tooth is jammed into the jawbone. Much like a knocked-out tooth, a tooth intrusion is typically caused by some form of blunt force trauma. In fact, if the tooth intrusion is severe, it can impact the tooth’s root and, in some cases, require root canal surgery.


Much like a tooth fracture, rinse your child’s mouth out with warm water. It’s also important to apply pressure in order to stop any ongoing or persistent bleeding. If it’s not too painful, having your child bite down on gauze can help apply pressure and slow bleeding, simultaneously. Apply a cold compress to help reduce any swelling, and administer a pediatric pain medication in the event your child is complaining of significant pain.


4. Toothache


Toothaches are extremely common and can often occur without a known cause. However, in many cases, toothaches can be caused by impacted food stuck between their teeth, which  is easily relieved with flossing. Additionally, tooth decay, tooth trauma, and wisdom teeth eruption can also cause toothaches.


The best course of action when dealing with toothaches is to begin by helping your child floss and see if the pain goes away. If that does not bring them relief, try using a cold compress to the face or rinsing your child’s mouth with warm water. Toothaches will often subside on their own. However, keep a close watch on your child for any severe swelling, unusual appearances, or discoloration in your child’s mouth. Any of these symptoms can be indicative of a dental emergency.


5. Dental Concussion


Sometimes a child’s tooth can be bumped or hit, but remain in it’s socket. This is what’s called a concussed tooth or dental concussion. This is typically painful and can result in the tooth feeling loose. This can also cause temporary or permanent discoloration of the tooth.


If your child’s tooth is showing signs of decay or death, make sure to contact and visit your pediatric dentist right away. Otherwise, treat it much like a toothache with warm water rinses, cold compresses, and pediatric pain medication.


Any health emergency can be scary for both the child and the parent. Just make sure to follow these tips and guidelines for dealing with your child’s dental emergencies quickly and effectively.