How to Handle Your Child's Dental Emergency

No one plans for their child to have a dental emergency, but life is unpredictable. Accidents happen all the time, so it's smart to be prepared and know what to do in the event your child has a dental emergency. 

What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?

Signs of Infection

The presence of pus or swelling in or around the mouth or face can be a sign of a serious bacterial infection or abscessed tooth. These infections need to be addressed immediately, as the infection can spread quickly and have severe (even fatal) consequences if not properly treated with antibiotics. 

Uncontrolled Bleeding

Any bleeding from the mouth or gums that is not slowing should be considered a dental emergency, and treatment should be sought right away. 

Severe Pain

Pain is the body's way of telling us that something is not right. If your child is experiencing a toothache or another form of oral pain, then you should visit the dentist right away so that we can determine the underlying cause and provide your child with relief and treatment. 

Trauma to the Face, jaw, or Mouth

Injuries to the face, jaw, or mouth can impact the teeth and the structural integrity of the maxillofacial anatomy. Any impact injuries or trauma should be followed up with an examination and x-ray to rule out the presence of any fractures, administer any necessary treatment, and ensure your child's developing anatomy is safe and healthy. 

Avulsed Tooth (Knocked-Out Tooth)

Getting a tooth knocked out is a dental emergency, and treatment varies depending on whether the affected tooth is a baby (primary) tooth or a permanent tooth. If your child has an avulsed tooth, we recommend contacting our office right away for instructions and emergency care. 

Displaced Tooth

A displaced tooth is one that is not fully knocked out but shifted into a different location or angle. Displaced teeth include cases of:

  • Intrusion - A tooth becomes pushed upward into the gums, further toward the alveolar bone. These teeth might appear shorter or be completely sunk into the gums. 
  • Extrusion - The tooth becomes partially pushed out of the socket. It might appear longer.
  • Lateral Luxation - A tooth is pushed in a different direction laterally. It might appear to be pushed forward (toward the lips), backward (toward the palate), or sideways (toward neighboring teeth). 

A displaced tooth needs to be evaluated with X-rays to rule out trauma to neighboring teeth and/or developing permanent teeth that have not yet erupted. 

Dry Socket Following a Tooth Extraction Procedure

Following a tooth extraction procedure, the development of a blood clot in the open socket is a necessary part of proper healing and recovery. These clots can sometimes become dislodged, resulting in a dry socket. This is a dental emergency and requires immediate medical care. 

When to Seek Emergency Dental Treatment for Your Child

Seek emergency dental treatment in the following events:

  • Your child suffers a trauma or injury to the teeth, mouth, face, or jaw
  • Your child has uncontrolled bleeding
  • Your child is experiencing severe dental pain
  • Your child has significant swelling in the mouth, jaw, gums, or face
  • Your child has signs of an infection

If you aren't certain your child requires immediate attention, we encourage you to call our office for professional advice. When in doubt, we always recommend erring on the side of caution. If you believe your child might need immediate medical attention, then it's best not to take any chances and seek care right away. 

Dental Pain Home Remedies for Children

While dental emergencies require immediate treatment and care, the following home remedies can provide some relief:

  • Cold Compress - Wrap a bag of ice in a towel and gently apply it to the outside of the cheek over the place where your child is experiencing pain or swelling.
  • Elevated Head - Keep your child's head elevated to help mitigate swelling and pain.
  • Salt Water Rinse - Dissolve salt into a warm glass of water and have your child gently swish it around their mouth before spitting it out. This can help to reduce swelling, fight infection, and relieve oral pain.
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID) Medication - Available over the counter, children's strength NSAIDs such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help alleviate pain and reduce swelling. Be sure to check with your child's pediatrician before administering these medications and follow all of the dosage and administration instructions carefully. 

Emergency Dental Care for Children in Muskego, Wisconsin

We understand how distressing it can be when your child is injured, ill, or otherwise in pain. That's why we're here for you when you need us most. If your child is experiencing a dental emergency, we welcome you to contact our office at any time for over-the-phone advice and instructions and to request an emergency examination.

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