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Dental Emergencies

Click here to learn more on dental first aid kits

My son was hit in the mouth with a bat and his front permanent tooth was knocked out. What should I do?

Your child must see a dentist within one hour of the incident. If you wait any longer, the chances of the tooth being successfully re-implanted are poor. If you can, rinse it in cool water; don't wipe it or scrub it. Place it in a glass of water or milk, or gently wrap it in a clean, damp cloth until you get to your dentist's office.

Teeth that have been knocked out will almost always require a root canal, but they can often survive for years if treated within one hour after the injury.

To protect your child in the future, have your dentist fit your child for a mouthguard and consider purchasing one or more tooth-saver boxes for your home and your car. These boxes are designed to hold and protect a knocked-out tooth until you can see a dentist.

My daughter fell and bumped her front baby tooth and now it's dark. Is it dead?

Probably. The discoloration may mean that the impact has broken a blood vessel at the tip of the tooth's root. Here is one note of encouragement: Baby teeth often survive blows that would kill a permanent tooth. Take your daughter to a dentist right away and have the tooth examined.

My son chipped his front tooth. How difficult will it be to fix it, and how long will it take?

If you find the fragment, bring it with you to the dental office. A fragment can occasionally be bonded back onto the tooth. Even without the broken piece, a dentist can often restore the tooth to its natural appearance in less than one hour.

What should I do if my child has a toothache?

Call your dentist immediately. Some dentists recommend that, until your child can be treated, you should rinse her mouth with lukewarm water and apply cloth-wrapped ice to her face. Dentists do not recommend that you apply heat, and you should never put an aspirin on the tooth or gums. Aspirin is acidic; placed on a tooth or against the gums, it can produce burns. If you're going to use aspirin, make sure it's swallowed.

Finally, children who complain of a toothache often have food lodged between their teeth. Gently flossing the area of discomfort may provide immediate relief.

How can I prevent injuries to my child's teeth?

If you have toddlers, make sure your house is childproof. This means sharp corners or protruding knobs and handles on furniture have been padded; if this isn't possible, lock the doors to the rooms with this furniture. When your child is in a stroller or car, make sure she is strapped in firmly. Never let your child stand on a seat or sit in your lap while you are in a car.

Mouthguards can prevent injuries in older children. Most dental injuries occur in your neighborhood, not on the gym floor or playing field, so a mouthguard should ideally be worn during all rough play, even if it's just in your own backyard.



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