It’s very upsetting for any parent to witness their child suffering from any kind of dental discomfort, but sometimes, it’s pretty hard to determine whether the situation is an emergency or not.
When it comes to dental situations, a good rule of thumb is to consider any cry of pain as an emergency. Your child may be suffering from a dental issue that is not visible to the naked eye.
As a parent, it’s your responsibility to be prepared for situations before they occur. In times of emergency, a quick and appropriate response can make a world of difference.
Here are some of the more common dental emergencies in children and how to deal with them before you get to the dentist’s office.
What to do when your child has a toothache
One of these days, your kids will complain about their aching tooth. When it happens, don’t panic and focus on checking for the cause of the ache instead. Toothaches are a normal experience growing up, but you need to know the root of the problem so you can address it appropriately.
Cavities and food impaction are two of the most common reasons your child’s tooth is aching. If impacted food is the issue, ask your kid to wash his or her mouth with warm water and then try to dislodge the debris using a string of dental floss. Afterward, rinse the affected area with salt water. In case of swelling, apply a cold compress.
However, if you think a hole or cavity in the tooth is the source of the problem, schedule a visit to the dentist as soon as possible to prevent it from developing into an abscess. To relieve your child of dental pain, you may use ibuprofen and acetaminophen, but never rub aspirin or topical pain relievers on the gum or the aching tooth.
What to do when your child loses a tooth
Tooth loss is commonly caused by accidents and traumatic events; in which case, your child may be in a state of shock and pain. If it’s a baby tooth that was knocked out, there’s very little reason to be concerned since baby teeth will naturally fall off over time. As much as you want to save the tooth, don’t try to reinsert it to avoid any risks to the permanent tooth forming underneath. Sometimes, it’s better to leave baby teeth to the tooth fairy.
A permanent tooth being knocked out, however, is another story. Loss of a permanent tooth requires more immediate attention.
If the tooth is clean and without any fractures, you can put it back in its socket and ask the child to bite on a piece of clean cloth to keep it there while you make your way to the dentist. In case you don't feel comfortable putting the tooth back in its socket, place it in a cup containing milk or the child’s saliva. Be sure only to handle the tooth by its crown to prevent any damage to its roots.
While it’s vital to have the permanent tooth re-implanted within half an hour after it has been displaced from the socket, more recent cases have proven that it is still possible to successfully put it back even after being out for a more extended period.
What to do when a tooth gets chipped or broken
In case of a broken or cracked tooth, the first and most important thing that you have to do is make sure that the child has not swallowed any of the smaller pieces or sustained cuts in the mouth. If the broken part is big enough, save it and keep it moist; the dentist may need it to repair the damage later on.
With chipped teeth, a more prompt action may be necessary especially if the child is sensing pain or sensitivity in the affected area. This could mean that a tooth nerve is injured, and more complex dental procedures are needed to save the tooth.
What to do in case of jaw injury
An injured jaw is one of the more critical dental emergencies you can encounter. In the unfortunate chance that your child is suffering from a jaw injury, bring him or her to the dentist or emergency room at once. The child will have to undergo a series of dental and medical exams to check for any fractures in the teeth or jaw. If the situation is beyond your dentist’s capabilities, you may be referred to an oral surgeon.