Navigating Emergency Dentistry for Children

Even small dental emergencies can seem like a very big deal at the time – especially when they happen to children. Knowing what to expect when the unexpected occurs is key to navigating a dental emergency. Do not fear, we are here to help! Here’s what you need to know before you arrive at our pediatric dentist in Muskego for a dental emergency.

Types of Pediatric Dental Emergencies

A pediatric dental emergency requires immediate attention. Knowing what constitutes a dental emergency can help you determine if a child in your care needs help from a pediatric dentist. Here are a few common types of pediatric dental emergencies:

  • One or more teeth that is knocked loose or knocked out
  • Chipped, cracked, fractured teeth, or teeth that are otherwise damaged
  • A bite or other damage to your child’s tongue, cheeks, lips or gums
  • Toothaches or other tooth pain, especially when it is severe or lasts for a long time
  • An object stuck in a child’s mouth or teeth
  • Severe teething issues
  • Dental abscess, which is a severe infection that causes a pocket of pus in the tissue surrounding a tooth

A Child is Having a Dental Emergency. What Should I Do?

If your child or a child in your care is having a dental emergency, you’ll need to take quick action. The action you take, though, will depend largely on the type of dental emergency the child is having. Here are a few of the most common dental emergencies, along with tips on how to manage them until you can get the child to an emergency dentist.

Knocked-out or knocked-loose tooth

  • Make sure the child has not sustained a more serious injury – call 911 for help as needed
  • Locate the tooth, if possible 
  • Keep a permanent “adult” tooth moist at all times by placing it in a container of milk or in a product made specifically to preserve teeth (make sure the product has the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance); bring it to the dentist with the child
  • Bring a primary “baby” tooth to the dentist with the child; it is not necessary to keep a baby tooth moist 
  • Take the child to a pediatric dentist right away

Cracked tooth

  • Rinse the child’s mouth with warm water
  • Apply a cold towel or compress to the affected area on the child’s face to reduce swelling
  • Take the child to a pediatric dentist right away

Chipped tooth

  • Rinse the child’s mouth with warm water to clean the affected tooth
  • Apply pressure to stop any bleeding
  • Apply cold compresses to the area of the child’s face affected to reduce swelling
  • If you can find the piece of broken tooth, wrap it in wet gauze
  • Take the child and any pieces of broken teeth you can find to a pediatric dentist right away

Bite to the lip or tongue

  • Clean the area gently with water
  • Apply cold compresses on the affected area of the child’s face to keep swelling down
  • Take the child to a pediatric dentist or emergency room as soon as possible


  • Rinse with warm water to clean the affected tooth and gum tissue
  • Gently floss between teeth to remove any food stuck there
  • Do not apply aspirin to the tooth or gums, as it may burn gum tissue
  • Take the child to a dentist if they continue to have pain

Objects stuck in a child’s gums, teeth, mouth

  • Gently remove items stuck between teeth or in gums with floss – do not use a knife or other pointed object
  • Take the child to a pediatric dentist or emergency department right away

Severe teething

  • Know that teething is uncomfortable, but it should not cause severe illness
  • Recognize the signs of severe teething: diarrhea, vomiting, rashes, high fever, coughing, congestion, bleeding or pus in their mouth


  • Identify the signs of an abscess: red, swollen gums and throbbing pain, especially when chewing; bad breath and a swollen face may occur
  • Have the child brush and floss gently
  • Apply cold compresses (which can be as simple as a towel rinsed in cold water) to the child’s face in the affected area to reduce pain and swelling

Tips for Navigating Emergency Dentistry for Children

Take steps to avoid dental emergencies

  • Have your child wear mouthguards and helmets when appropriate for sports or recreational activities
  • Teach your children to never use their teeth to open or cut things
  • Warn your children against running with sharp objects (yes, that old adage is still true!)
  • Use gates to block stairways and other dangerous areas from young children
  • Visit your pediatric dentist every 6 months to make sure your child’s teeth are strong and healthy

Choose a pediatric dentist who offers emergency dental care in Muskego

If you are a caretaker for an infant, make sure you have a dentist that specializes in infant dental care. A dentist for babies has special expertise in taking care of emergencies in their tiniest patients.

If you think your child has had a dental emergency, contact our pediatric dentist in Muskego. We are here for your child’s first dental visit all the way through adolescence.

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