How to Handle a Dental Emergency

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Dental Advice

How to Handle a Dental Emergency

Being an active child means being exposed to the possibility of minor accidents, which means there’s a chance your child will have a mouth-related injury at some point. As with other emergencies, dental emergencies often happen at the worst possible time, so it’s a good idea to have a plan for how to handle them.

Here are some ideas on how to handle the most common dental emergencies.


The best to way to treat your child’s toothache is to clean the affected area of the tooth by rinsing out their mouth with warm water and flossing near the tooth to dislodge any debris. If the pain persists for more than a day, contact their pediatric dentist.

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Knocked Out Baby Tooth

If it looks as though your child has injured more than just their tooth, go to an emergency room where a doctor can check the child’s face, mouth, and gums. Otherwise, do the following:

  1. Apply direct pressure to the gum with a clean washcloth or rolled-up piece of gauze. If the child is old enough to understand, ask them to bite down on it gently.

  2. Place the knocked-out tooth in a small plastic bag. Although it can't be reinserted, your pediatric dentist may still want to see it.

  3. Call your pediatric dentist. Depending on the injury, she or he may simply advise you to put your child on a soft diet for the next 48 to 72 hours. He may also suggest that you bring your child in for an x ray. This will help him determine whether there's been damage to the nerve or to a secondary tooth, or whether there are missing tooth fragments that can cause adult teeth to come in crooked. If a baby molar gets knocked out, the dentist may put in spacers to guide in future teeth.

Knocked Out Permanent Tooth

If possible, locate the tooth and rinse it with water only. Do not clean the tooth with soap, and only handle it by the crown, not by the root. After you have rinsed it off, store it in a plastic bag filled with milk, or your child’s saliva, but not water. Immediately after storing the tooth, take your child to their pediatric dentist to have the tooth reinserted the tooth. The sooner you can get to the dentist, the better the odds that the reinsertion will be successful.

Chipped or Fractured Permanent Tooth

If your child chips or fractures a tooth, have them rinse their mouth with warm water to reduce the chance of infection. If you have a piece of the fractured tooth, store it in a plastic bag filled with milk or your child’s saliva and bring it to their pediatric dentist as soon as possible.

Time is an important factor to restore a chipped or fractured permanent tooth.

Oral Cuts

If your child has a cut inside his or her mouth, have them rinse their mouth with warm water. If there is bleeding, apply gentle pressure to the cut with a gauze or cloth. If this doesn’t control the bleeding, then visit their pediatric dentist or doctor immediately.

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