Common Dental Emergencies Seen in Children

You watched your child’s teeth grow since infanthood. That’s why it can be especially difficult to see them experience a toothache, fractured tooth, or any other dental emergencies.

When time is of the essence, you need to know what to do and who to contact.

To help empower you in a moment of crisis, we’ve put together a list of 10 common issues that might occur, along with the steps to take in the moments that follow. Read on for how to handle a range of kids’ dental emergencies for the best outcome possible.

1. Cut or Bitten Tongue, Lip or Cheek

There’s nothing like chomping down hard on your tongue, lip, or cheek mid-bite. Though usually minor, this incident can elicit some major shrieks from even your oldest children. If it happens, stay calm.

First, clean the area gently with water. Then, apply a cold compress to the affected area to help control and minimize any swelling. If the spot is bleeding, apply gentle pressure using a clean piece of gauze or cloth.

In severe cases, pressure alone isn’t enough to control the swelling. In this case, contact your pediatric dentist for an emergency visit.

2. Knocked-out Baby Tooth

In many cases, a knocked-out baby tooth is not considered an emergency.

Still, a call to your dental office might be required. Though you don’t have to keep this tooth moist as you would a permanent tooth, it’s still helpful to save it and bring it to the appointment with you.

3. Knocked-out Permanent Tooth

If your child has their permanent teeth in and one or more is knocked out, this qualifies as an absolute dental emergency.

First, check your child for other, more serious injuries. In some cases, knocked-out teeth can be a side effect of head trauma. Upon examination, call 911 if necessary.

If you’re able to locate the tooth, handle it by the crown only, and avoid touching the root. The most important thing to remember at this juncture is that the tooth needs to stay moist. If you can position it back into the socket, have your child hold it in place by biting down on a piece of gauze.

If you cannot reposition the tooth, it still needs to stay moistened. Rather than submerging it in water, place it in a container of milk or saline solution. Or, have your child hold it in their mouth against their cheek. Then, visit your dentist immediately if there is no sign of other injuries.

4. Potentially Broken or Fractured Jaw

If you believe that your child’s jaw might be potentially broken or fractured, it’s important to exercise extreme caution. Gently apply a cold compress to help control the swelling and try to keep their jaw from moving.

Then, make an immediate call to your dentist for an emergency visit.

5. Severe Blow to the Head

If your child has experienced a severe blow to their head, there will likely be some form of dental trauma involved, as well. Still, it’s critical to get your child into the nearest hospital emergency room as soon as possible.

This is one dental issue that will require more intensive treatment than your pediatric dentist emergency care team can provide. The same applies to the following conditions:

  • Severe swelling on or near the face and gums
  • Persistent, uncontrollable oral bleeding

6. Severe Toothache

A toothache can range in severity from a minor complication to a major issue. Sometimes, the pain is caused by something as simple as a piece of food stuck in your child’s tooth! As soon as they complain of a toothache, rinse their mouth thoroughly to clean it out.

Examine their mouth for food and use dental floss to gently dislodge any that you find. If this isn’t the reason for the toothache, your child could be suffering from a cavity, abscess, or another issue. Contact your dentist immediately for emergency treatment.

Remember to never apply ice directly to your child’s tooth or gums, as it could burn the sensitive tissue there. You can use a cold compress to reduce swelling and offer comfort.

7. Tooth Sensitivity

Is your child suddenly sensitive to hot or cold foods? If so, there are myriad reasons why this could be the case. For instance, there could be an injury or cavity behind the jabs of sharp pain they feel when they bite down on an afflicting food.

Rather than asking them to wait it out, it’s best to schedule an emergency visit to your dentist. Your dental team will be able to examine your child and determine the root cause of the issue and help you treat it.

8. Object Stuck in Mouth

If there is an object stuck in your child’s mouth, you should first try to remove it gently with floss. Yet, remember to never use a sharp or pointed object near their sensitive teeth and gums. If it won’t budge, visit your dentist as soon as possible.

9. Dental Abscess

A dental abscess is a very painful infection that forms inside a tooth’s root. It creates a pocket of pus that, if left untreated, can lead to a variety of health issues, including the following:

  • Severe, persistent toothache
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Fever
  • Pain when biting
  • Facial swelling
  • Swollen lymph nodes in jaw or neck
  • Difficulty breathing

If your child experiences any of these symptoms, they could be suffering from a dental abscess. A professional dental evaluation can help determine what caused the abscess and how to treat it. Note that if your child’s abscess is so severe that it hinders their breathing, causes a fever, or causes their face to swell, you’ll need to go straight to the emergency room.

10. Lost or Loose Fillings

If your older children have fillings, these can become loose, dislodged, or lost altogether. When this happens, it’s best to schedule an emergency visit with your dentist right away. Any time a filling moves from its original position, it exposes the unprotected tooth underneath.

This can lead to extreme sensitivity in the affected area. In addition, it can also encourage the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms, which can lead to tooth decay. It’s important to get the filling replaced as soon as possible.

We’re equipped to handle kids’ dental emergencies.

Are you looking for a team of dental professionals that you can count on to deliver unparalleled support and medical attention during your child’s dental emergencies? If so, we’re here for your family. Contact our office if you need to get a hold of us. We can’t wait to see your beautiful smiles again soon!

Do you have a question? We can help!

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Prince Frederick

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Prince Frederick

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Prince Frederick, MD 20678


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