Handling Your Child's Dental Emergency 

Knowing how to handle a dental emergency can mean the difference between saving and losing your child's tooth.  Here are some tips to help you cope quickly and calmly with a dental emergency.

KNOCKED-OUT TOOTH

 

Baby tooth

If something happens to any of your child's baby teeth, you should contact their dentist as soon as possible.  They will help you determine whether an immediate appointment is necessary.  If a tooth is completely out, do not try to put it back into the tooth socket.  Although it is normal for children to lose primary (baby) teeth, an accident that damages a primary tooth could also harm the permanent tooth underneath.

 

Adult Tooth

Unlike a baby tooth that is knocked out, an adult tooth should be put back into the socket.  After you find the tooth, hold it by the crown (top), not the root.  If the tooth looks dirty, rinse the root briefly with water.  Do not scrub the tooth or remove any attached bits of tissue.

 

If possible, gently insert and hold the tooth in its socket with a clean washcloth or gauze pad.  If this isn't possible, see if the child can hold the tooth under his or her tongue.  If that does not work either, put the tooth in a container with milk, saliva, saline (salt) solution, or an emergency tooth preservation kit.  If none of those liquids are available, put the tooth in water.

 

Contact your child's dentist as soon as possible for an appointment.  Don't forget to bring the tooth and any tooth pieces you can find!

OBJECTS CAUGHT BETWEEN TEETH

Gently try to remove the object with dental floss.  If that does not work, contact your child's dentist for an appointment.  Do not try to remove the object with a sharp or pointed instrument. 

TOOTHACHE OR SWOLLEN FACE

Rinse the mouth with warm water to clean it out.  Give your child what you would normally give him or her for pain.  Do not put aspirin directly on the aching tooth or gums.  Contact your child's dentist as soon as possible for an appointment.  If your child's face is swollen, also contact your child's dentist as soon as possible for an appointment.  Swelling of the face can be a sign of serious infection. 

POSSIBLE BROKEN JAW

Apply a cold compress to control swelling.  Take your child to an emergency medical center right away. 

IF A DENTAL EMERGENCY HAPPENS WHILE YOU ARE TRAVELING:

  • Go to www.mouthhealthy.org and use the "ADA Find-a-Dentist" tool to find an ADA member dentist near you. 

  • Ask the local hospital or dental society to recommend a dentist. 

  • Ask a hotel concierge or other hotel staff to refer you to a dentist. 

  • If you are out of the country, contact the U.S. Embassy.  You may also visit www.usembassy.gov for additional information on local medical & dental staff. 

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