girl in dental chair

What is a Pediatric Dental Emergency?

Team Emergency Dentistry, Pediatric Dentistry

As a parent, you may know all too well that dental emergencies can and do happen. Bumps, falls, and other accidents can result in dental trauma that needs to be addressed right away. Severe toothaches and infections can also occur without warning. If you’ve never experienced one before you may wonder, what is a dental emergency

There are degrees of pediatric dental emergencies. How they are handled depends on the situation. Here are some examples of dental emergencies and what to do if they occur. 

Dental Emergencies

These are some examples of pediatric dental emergencies and how to handle them. 

  • Knocked out baby tooth. If your child knocks out a baby tooth, don’t attempt to put it back in place. Have your child rinse their mouth out with water and apply ice to reduce swelling. Call your dentist right away. If it is during regular business hours your dentist will most likely try to see you the same day. If it is after hours, call and follow the directions on the after hours voicemail. 
  • Knocked out permanent tooth. If your child knocks out a permanent tooth, pick up the tooth by the crown and avoid touching the root. Rinse it off with water (plug the drain to be safe). Put it back in the socket and have your child bite down on some gauze to hold it in place. Call your dentist right away. If you can’t put the tooth back into the socket, put it in a cup of saliva or milk to keep it moist (never water) and bring it with you when you go to the dentist. It is important that you seek immediate dental care right away (preferably within 30 minutes of the accident)!!
  • Chipped or broken tooth. The severity of the chip or break makes a difference in this situation. A small chip, if there is no major pain, can probably wait until normal business hours for your dentist. But a large tooth fracture means you should call your dentist right away, no matter what time it is. If you can find the piece of the tooth that broke off, put it in saliva or milk and bring it with you to the dentist. 
  • Bitten tongue, cheek, or lip. This situation depends on the severity of the injury or bleeding. If your child has bitten their tongue, cheek, or lip, apply gauze to the area and hold with pressure to stop the bleeding. Apply ice to reduce swelling and call your dentist. Check to see if they have bitten completely through because this may require an urgent care or emergency room visit for stitches. If the bite is not that severe but the bleeding won’t stop, still proceed to urgent or emergency care. 
  • Severe toothache. If your child has a toothache, check to see that there is no food caught between the teeth that could be causing pain. If the toothache persists, call your dentist during normal business hours. If the toothache is so severe that over the counter pain medication cannot manage it, call your dentist right away. Any toothache should be addressed right away in order to save the tooth. If you notice that your child’s face is swollen, it is important to seek immediate care (at either your regular dentist or an urgent medical care facility). 

        When to Call 911 or Proceed to Urgent Care or Emergency Room

        If your child has any of the following symptoms, call 911 or seek urgent or emergency care at the closest medical center. 

        • Loss of consciousness
        • Trouble breathing
        • Severe face swelling causing dizziness, nausea, vomiting, trouble breathing or blurred vision
        • Severe uncontrollable bleeding
        • Possible broken jaw causing numbness/tingling and severe swelling
        • Any symptom that is severe or life threatening 

        ABQ Pediatric Dentistry Handles Pediatric Dental Emergencies

        In the event that your child experiences a dental emergency, ABQ Pediatric Dentistry is ready to help. When you contact us during regular business hours we will do our best to see your child the same day. If you need to call us after hours, simply follow the directions on our after hours voicemail and leave a message. Someone from our office will contact you as soon as possible to advise you on what to do.

        Call 505-888-3520 right away if your child has a dental emergency. For non-urgent needs, contact us to book an appointment.