November 25, 2014
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What to do in a dental emergency

Even though baby teeth aren't permanent, they still require attention. Trauma to baby teeth can harm the permanent teeth developing underneath the gum, possibly delaying their eruption. And decay in a baby tooth can affect general gum and tooth health, too.

Oops!

Babies and toddlers are known for their enthusiastic curiosity, and sometimes, that curiosity ends in a fall, or even an injury. New walkers in particular are very likely to take a few spills and bang a tooth every now and then. In fact, about one-third of all toddlers have experienced some kind of trauma to their pearly whites, and the risk peaks between 18 and 40 months. Here's what you need to know to be ready in case of an emergency.

Knocked-out teeth

If your child's baby tooth is knocked out completely, chances are, the dentist won't be able to re-implant it, so they will most likely wait for the adult tooth to develop. Permanent teeth, on the other hand, can be re-implanted within one to two hours after being injured. Just place it in a clean container (don't scrub it) with a sample of your child's saliva or milk and take it to the dentist or emergency room right away.

In all cases of missing teeth, apply pressure to the area to stop the bleeding. If bleeding doesn't stop after 10 minutes of constant, firm pressure, see the dentist or go to the emergency room.

Broken teeth

If part of your child's baby tooth breaks off, or if there's a break line running up the tooth or a glob of reddish flesh (dental pulp) sticking out, see the dentist right away. If the tooth has just shifted a bit or if a tooth has been pushed up into the gum but isn't broken off or bleeding, call your dentist and see what he/she recommends. It is important to check in with the dentist, since further care may be necessary at that time, or in the future.

After any dental trauma, baby teeth are likely to turn color over a period of several weeks. If you did not see the trauma happen you may notice this suddenly. It may mean that the blood and nerve supply inside of the tooth has died. Consult with your dentist to understand what treatment may be needed.

Injured tongue, gums or lips

If your child cuts his tongue, and you see a lot of blood, stay calm; the injury may look worse than it actually is. Except in the case of very large cuts, the tongue will heal itself. If your child has cut or bruised his or her lips or gums, but the teeth are still intact, apply cold pressure (A compress, bag of ice or pack of frozen fruit or veggies will do.) If the cut is larger than a quarter inch or goes across the lip border, take your little one to see your health care provider. They can make sure everything will heal properly.


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