A pediatric dental emergency can arise unexpectedly as a result of a fall or other sudden injury. Other situations might be caused by tooth decay or infection. These emergencies can be frightening for both children and parents, especially if a tooth is broken or knocked out entirely. Knowing how to react in the wake of this type of crisis and when to seek treatment can lower the risk of permanent tooth loss or damage.
Common types of pediatric dental emergencies
Infected baby tooth
Improper or sporadic cleaning of your children’s baby teeth can cause one or more of them to become infected or abscessed. When this occurs, pockets of pus form around the tooth and can make it difficult for your child to chew or speak. Since the infection can spread throughout the body, it is vital to seek treatment as soon as possible.
Children with infected baby teeth may experience swelling in the cheek or jaw, depending on the affected tooth’s location. They might also run a low-grade fever. Ice packs can be applied to the area for brief intervals to reduce pain. Visible abscesses will likely be painful to the touch. Handling them may only introduce further bacteria. Encourage children to keep their fingers out of their mouths and away from the infected tooth.
Kids often experience tooth fractures during play, such as falling off their bikes onto the pavement or from trees and jungle gyms. A fractured tooth may bleed, and in some cases, the break may not be easily seen. Because this type of pediatric dental emergency may result in infection, it is wise to seek treatment right away.
A fractured tooth may break into one or more pieces before treatment. If this occurs, preserving the broken sections as whole as possible can improve the chances of saving the tooth. If a piece breaks off and cannot be recovered, this is not a cause for panic. It can be a common occurrence during a fracture. To lower this risk, place a damp piece of gauze over the affected tooth and have the child keep gentle pressure on the tooth to hold it together.
Injured or lost permanent teeth
Older children who have some of their adult teeth might have them fractured or knocked loose. This type of problem can be serious, as it will likely require tooth replacement. If an adult tooth is knocked out, there are several ways it can be preserved.
On your way to the dentist, be sure to:
- Hold the tooth in the empty socket with gauze
- Keep the tooth in a paper cup and add milk to prevent the roots from drying out
- Avoid handling the tooth to lower the risk of infection
Acting quickly can make the difference between saving a broken adult tooth and requiring an implant or artificial crown.
Call us for pediatric dental emergencies
A pediatric dental emergency can happen at any time, and being prepared to act may help keep children calm when such an injury occurs. Keep our information on hand so that you can call when disaster strikes. The faster you respond to an emergency, the more likely a dentist can save your child’s tooth.
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