What constitutes a pediatric dental emergency? When should you call your child’s Florida dentist? Anytime your child gets hurt, it can feel like an emergency. Seeing your child in pain gets your adrenaline pumping and you want to take action right now.
Your brain will usually kick in at some point and make you question your actions. Is your child really going through an “emergency”? Or is this something that can heal on its own. Talking to your pediatric dentist in Brandon and their dental team can help clear up the confusion.
First, we want you to know that Dr. Derek Busciglio and the rest of our dental team are here for you and your child. If your child’s dental health is at risk for any reason, please call us. Here are some common dental emergencies that children face.
Before calling us, we recommend gently cleaning the tooth that hurts and flossing around it. Use a flashlight to help you see if anything is lodged in the gum tissue, like a popcorn kernel. Food impaction can irritate the gum tissue, making it tender and swollen, which can feel like a toothache.
We don’t recommend giving your child painkillers as these can simply mask the problem. Also, if your child is experiencing any sort of swelling or inflammation, a heat compress is not recommended. Instead, try a cold compress, especially in the case of facial swelling. If cleaning doesn’t relieve the soreness, or if your child’s face starts to swell, contact your child’s pediatric dentist.
One of the main causes of toothaches is an infection. Signs of an abscessed tooth include:
If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, call us right away. An infection can spread if it’s not treated.
Knocked Out Baby Tooth
Another reason to call our office is if one of your child’s baby teeth are knocked out due to injury. While we won’t try to save the tooth as we would if it was an adult tooth, we will want to place a space maintainer.
The baby teeth are natural space maintainers, which help guide the adult teeth into proper occlusion. When a baby tooth is gone and there’s not an adult tooth to replace it, the adjacent teeth will shift to fill in the space. If that happens, it can wreck the alignment of their teeth.
It’s easier and less expensive to place a space maintainer in these situations than it is to go through orthodontic treatment and possible surgery down the road.
Knocked Out Permanent Tooth
Call us immediately if one of your child’s permanent teeth are knocked out. We want to try and save the tooth if possible. When this happens, locate the tooth if you can. Never hold it by the root. Instead, hold it by the crown and rinse it with warm (not hot) water. Do not wash the tooth with soap or toothpaste.
If the tooth is fully intact (no cracks or fractures), attempt to gently insert it into the socket. Hold the tooth in place with medical gauze or a clean washcloth. If you’re unable to reinsert the tooth, put it in a container with milk (not water). This is a time-sensitive situation, so call us as soon as this happens. Waiting to call can put your child at risk of losing the tooth permanently.
Soft Tissue Trauma
We’ve all been there. The pain of biting down too hard and nipping a piece of our cheek or tongue can be intense. The soft tissues of the oral cavity are very sensitive. If your child has lip, tongue, or cheek cuts or bites, have them rinse with some warm salt water one to two times a day. Cold compresses can also reduce the pain and minimize swelling and bleeding.
Another common soft tissue injury is a burn to the roof of the mouth, common when eating hot, cheesy pizza. Warm salt water rinses and time can help ease the pain. If the pain doesn’t go away or gets worse, or if the bleeding doesn’t stop, contact us for further assistance.
Chips and fractures can happen to anyone. Some common causes of chips/fractures in children include:
Chipping without pain may not be a dental emergency. Call us and we’ll discuss your child’s symptoms and determine whether they need an emergency appointment or not. A fracture may or may not be painful. Again, please call us to discuss symptoms.
Even if your child doesn’t need to be seen right away, they will need an appointment in the near future. We want to treat the underlying cause of the chipping/fracturing to prevent further damage. Additionally, we can repair damaged teeth with fillings, bonding, and other restorative options.
If you suspect that your child’s jaw is broken – take them to the emergency room ASAP. While transporting your child to the ER, make sure to keep their jaw still. Your child should avoid talking or anything else that could cause jaw movement.
We can help you prevent some but not all dental emergencies.
For instance, we can help prevent:
– Dental infections: Many dental infections are caused by dental decay or gum disease, both of which can, for the most part, be prevented with proper brushing and flossing. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are vital for preventing this type of emergency as well.
– Knocked out teeth: If your child plays sports, they’re at risk for various sports-related injuries, including getting a tooth knocked out if they experience a blow to the face. Wearing a dental sports guard can protect your child’s teeth if this happens.
– Tooth chips and fractures: Chips and fractures can occur during sports, so a sports guard can help in these situations as well. Another common cause of chipped enamel and tooth fractures is a misaligned bite. We can repair your child’s bite by adjusting the occlusal surfaces of their teeth or existing fillings (if that’s the issue), or with orthodontic treatment.
If you suspect that your child is experiencing a dental emergency, call us right away. Based on the information you provide, we can determine whether your child needs to come in for an evaluation, or if the issue can resolve itself with time.
However, if your child is dealing with an urgent medical emergency, we urge you to call 9-1-1 right away. Doing so can prevent further trauma and keep your child safe.