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Brush Up on Children’s Dental Emergencies

You encourage your kids to brush and floss their teeth, take them in for regular checkups, and make sure they don’t eat too much sugar. But even if you practice great dental hygiene, emergencies affecting the teeth and mouth sometimes happen.

Acts of Preservation

Here’s how you can minimize the risk for dental-related accidents in children:

  • Provide a mouth guard to wear during sports activities.

  • Emphasize that wrappers and other packaging should only be opened with hands (and scissors, if necessary)—never with teeth.

  • Keep your home tidy so that it’s free of trip hazards. Block off staircases from young children.

  • Don’t let kids run with any kind of object in their mouths, such as toothbrushes or pencils.

  • Visit a pediatric dentist twice a year to ensure your child’s teeth are healthy and strong.

In Case of Emergency

If, despite precautions, you encounter an emergency situation, visit your dentist as soon as possible. Call before you arrive and provide details about your child’s condition so the dentist can prepare for your specific circumstance. In the event your dental office is not open, go to an emergency department. Here are five examples of common dental emergencies and what to do in each situation:

1.      A toothache: Start by rinsing the mouth out with warm water, then gently flossing to make sure any food that might be caught between the teeth, irritating the gums, is removed. If your child is still in pain, get in touch with a dentist. (You may have heard that putting aspirin on a sore tooth is a good idea, but it’s not—it can burn the gums.)

2.      A knocked-out tooth: If your child’s tooth is knocked out as a result of a hard fall or something that might have caused a more serious injury, call 911. If it’s just the tooth that’s the problem, take your child to the dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime, keep the tooth moist by placing it in milk.

3.      A cracked tooth: Immediately rinse your child’s mouth out with warm water to clean the area. Keep the swelling down by using cold compresses on the face. Then, see a dentist right away.

4.      A broken jaw: Use cold compresses to control the swelling and visit your child’s dentist or the emergency department immediately.

5.      A bitten tongue or lip: Carefully clean the area with water then apply a cold compress. If there’s a lot of blood or the bleeding won’t stop, visit the dentist or the emergency department.

© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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