illustration of a tooth and medical kit

Dental Emergencies

Although oral injuries and emergencies are often distressing, they are unfortunately extremely common. Approximately one third of children have experienced some type of mouth trauma and more have experienced an emergency.

There are two peak risk periods for dental trauma – the first being toddlerhood (18-40 months) when environmental exploration begins, and the second being the preadolescent/adolescent period, when sporting injuries become commonplace. Adults also often suffer from oral emergencies and can include toothaches, trauma, infections, etc.

Detailed below are some of the most common childhood dental emergencies, in addition to helpful advice on how to deal with them. If you experience one of these, or one not listed, contact us immediately.


Toothache

Toothache is common in children of all ages and rarely occurs without cause. Impacted food can cause discomfort in young children, and can be dislodged using a toothbrush, a clean finger, or dental floss. If pain persists, contact our pediatric specialist. Some common causes of toothache include: tooth fractures, tooth decay, tooth trauma, and wisdom teeth eruption (adolescence).

How you can help:

  1. Cleanse the area using warm water. Do not medicate or warm the affected tooth or adjacent gum area.
  2. Check for impacted food and remove it as necessary.
  3. Apply a cold compress to the affected area to reduce swelling.
  4. Contact your care provider for additional advice.

Dental avulsion (knocked-out tooth)

If a tooth has been knocked out of a child’s mouth, it is important to contact the pediatric specialist immediately. In general, our professionals do not attempt to re-implant avulsed primary (baby) teeth, because the re-implantation procedure itself can cause damage to the tooth bud, and thereby damage the emerging permanent tooth.

Pediatric dentists always attempt to re-implant avulsed permanent teeth, unless the trauma has caused irreparable damage. The re-implantation procedure is almost always more successful if it is performed within one hour of the avulsion, so time is of the essence!

How you can help:

  1. Recover the tooth. Do not touch the tooth roots! Handle the crown only.
  2. Rinse off dirt and debris with water without scrubbing or scraping the tooth.
  3. For older children, insert the tooth into its original socket using gentle pressure, or encourage the child to place the tooth in the cheek pouch. For younger children, submerge the tooth in a glass of milk or saliva (do not attempt to reinsert the tooth in case the child swallows it).
  4. Do not allow the tooth to dry during transportation. Moisture is critically important for reimplantation success.
  5. Visit the pediatric provider or take the child to the Emergency Room immediately –time is critical in saving the tooth.

Dental intrusion (tooth pushed into jawbone)

Sometimes, oral trauma forces a tooth (or several teeth) upwards into the jawbone. The prognosis is better for teeth that have been pushed up to a lesser extent (less than 3mm), but every situation is unique. Oftentimes, the force of the trauma is great enough to injure the tooth’s ligament and fracture its socket.

If dental intrusion of either the primary or permanent teeth is suspected, it is important to contact a pediatric specialist immediately. Depending on the nature and depth of the intrusion, the dentist will either wait for the tooth to descend naturally, or perform root canal therapy to preserve the structure of the tooth.

How you can help:

  1. Rinse the child’s mouth with cold water.
  2. Place ice packs around affected areas to reduce swelling.
  3. Offer Tylenol for pain relief.
  4. Contact an oral care specialist where possible, or proceed to the Emergency Room.

Tooth luxation/extrusion/lateral displacement (tooth displacement)

Tooth displacement is generally classified as “luxation,” “extrusion,” or “lateral displacement,” depending on the orientation of the tooth following trauma. A luxated tooth remains in the socket – with the pulp intact about half of the time. However, the tooth protrudes at an unnatural angle and the underlying jawbone is oftentimes fractured.

The term “extrusion” refers to a tooth that has become partly removed from its socket. In young children, primary tooth extrusions tend to heal themselves without medical treatment. However, treatment should be sought for permanent teeth that have been displaced in any manner in order to save the tooth and prevent infection. It is important to contact our offices if displacement is suspected.

How you can help:

  1. Place a cold, moist compress on the affected area.
  2. Offer pain relief (for example, Children’s Tylenol).
  3. Contact a pediatric specialist immediately.
CALL NOW
1-801-GO-DENTAL
utah mountainscape