The sun is shining, the kids are outside — running, biking, playing and enjoying their summer break. And with all the fun, minor accidents like skinned knees, bumps and bruises can sometimes happen. But what if your child has a more serious spill like their tooth gets knocked out or they have a fractured or cracked tooth? Understandably, a kids’ dental emergency can be alarming, but rest assured, Oak Tree Pediatric Dentistry is equipped to help you as your experienced, go-to emergency pediatric dentist in Greenville, SC.
Now you might wonder what kinds of kids’ dental emergencies are most common. And what should you do right after a dental injury before you bring your child in to see us? To help you prepare, we’ve gathered a list of the most common dental emergencies and what you should do for the best outcome possible.
A Baby or Permanent Tooth Gets Knocked Out
First things first, make sure your child doesn’t have a more extensive injury that requires calling 911 or going to the ER right away. A tooth that gets knocked out can signal a head injury that needs immediate medical attention.
As for your child’s tooth that was knocked out, try to find it. When you do, hold it by the crown, being careful not to touch the root. As soon as possible, rinse the tooth gently with water to wash off any dirt but don’t scrub it — we suggest plugging the sink and rinsing the tooth there. Or if a sink isn’t nearby, a cup or bowl with clean water will do.
When A Baby Tooth Is Knocked Out
While having a baby tooth avulsed is not as serious as a permanent tooth avulsion, it is still a dental emergency. We suggest coming into our Greenville office as soon as possible to evaluate the surrounding teeth and soft tissue. However, it’s not typical to reimplant a baby tooth that’s been knocked out.
Dr. Chay and Dr. Hendrix will want to ensure that the teeth and gums around the injury site are clean and that no other teeth were impacted or injured. At Oak Tree Pediatric Dentistry, we care that your child’s smile is healthy and they walk away happy.
When A Permanent Tooth Gets Knocked Out
Unlike with baby teeth, knocked-out permanent teeth are a more serious emergency, so please call us right away at Oak Tree if this happens. Your child can hold their knocked-out tooth in their cheek if you’re heading to us immediately, or you can try placing the tooth back in its socket, keeping a finger on it to hold it in place and asking your child to close their mouth slowly.
If keeping a knocked-out permanent tooth in the mouth isn’t going to work, the next best thing is to store the knocked-out tooth in a container of cold milk (not water). It’s possible that we can save the tooth and reimplant it if the roots are kept moist and we’re within 30 minutes of the dental injury occurring.
The longer a permanent tooth is out of the mouth, the less likely the tooth’s long-term survival, so it’s highly recommended to reimplant an avulsed permanent tooth as soon as possible. We also want to inform parents that there can be an increased risk of complications after reimplantation.
When A Permanent or Baby Tooth Gets Knocked Out of Position
Now what if a baby or permanent tooth is knocked out of position? If your child’s tooth is loose or displaced, call us for an emergency appointment and come in immediately. Our approach to emergency pediatric dental care ensures your child feels safe and comfortable every step of the way.
What does treatment for a loosened tooth look like? Oftentimes, baby teeth will need an extraction or root canal treatment with a crown. Permanent teeth may need root canal treatment depending on the severity of the luxation or disjointed injury.
Your Kid Has A Chipped or Fractured Tooth
Sometimes a tooth doesn’t get knocked out but only gets chipped, fractured or cracked. With this type of dental injury, it’s still important to call us immediately. Give your child over-the-counter child (or infant, if under two-years-old) acetaminophen or ibuprofen if they need it, then call us. As your experienced emergency kids dentist in Greenville, we will let you know what to do next with your child’s chipped, fractured or cracked tooth.
Now, you might start to notice your kid’s chipped or fractured tooth starts to discolor — turning brown, black, red, or gray. This is a sign that your child’s tooth is bruised. Like a bruise on their skin, the blood vessels will heal and the discoloration will fade. However, if the tooth stays black or gray for a long time, the tooth might have permanent damage and need root canal treatment (for permanent teeth) or extraction (for baby teeth).
And if tooth fragments broke off? Bring them with you to your dental appointment if you can find them. They can be bonded back on. If you can’t find any tooth fragments, it’s possible that your child swallowed them. If you suspect this, keep an eye on your child’s swallowing and breathing after their dental injury. A larger fragment can affect their eating ability or their airway.
At your dental appointment, our friendly team will examine the damage to your child’s teeth and check for signs of infection or necrosis. Your Greenville pediatric dentist can then determine whether filing, bonding, a veneer, or extraction is the best treatment — or even if any treatment is needed.
Can a fractured tooth be saved? A cracked tooth doesn’t heal on its own, but treatment like the ones below can provide protection and prevent further damage or infection.
Filing – Typically, filing is recommended for tiny chips in the teeth. Dr. Chay or Dr. Hendrix will file the tooth gently until it’s smooth and has a natural feel like the other teeth. This can be a great solution for a baby’s chipped front tooth. A more involved treatment might not be needed since top front baby teeth are one of the first to fall out to make way for their adult counterparts.
Extraction – Large chips, cracks or fractures might require extraction. For baby teeth, the quick and painless removal of a baby tooth can benefit your child’s overall oral health. And while you wait for the permanent tooth to erupt, your Greenville pediatric dentist might place a space maintainer in the gap to make sure the adult tooth will have the right amount of room to come in.
Kids’ Tooth Pain
We all know this to be true: summer break is a time when school-year rules relax, when bedtimes are later, kids have looser routines, and… they consume more sweet treats. Popsicles, candy, and frequent snacking are the hallmark of many kids’ summer diets. So it’s no surprise that kids might experience tooth pain during the summer months because of increased sugar, less-than-stellar oral care habits and resulting tooth decay or cavities.
Though mild tooth pain isn’t usually an emergency, severe tooth pain might signal serious tooth issues that do need quick attention. New tooth sensitivity can mean a cavity has reached the inner tooth where the nerve is. Or your child might be suffering from a dental abscess: an infection in their tooth’s root.
Complaints of a toothache could also mean that food is lodged in between teeth, causing pain. Try gently flossing and brushing the tooth that hurts. Then have your child rinse their mouth with warm salt water (½ Tsp of salt dissolved in a glass of warm water) to dislodge food wedged in their teeth. If that doesn’t provide relief, give your child over-the-counter pain reliever. And reduce facial swelling with a cold compress against the cheek.
If tooth pain persists, call your emergency kids’ dentists in Greenville — we at Oak Tree Pediatric Dentistry! Our top-notch team can promptly but gently provide restorative treatment like fillings or start effective treatment for a tooth infection.
Biting The Tongue or Lips
Sometimes a fall, head or facial injury involves your child biting their tongue or lips involuntarily. Right after the injury, we suggest cleaning the area gently with water or having your child rinse with water so you can identify the injury site more clearly. Apply pressure with gauze or cloth to stop any bleeding, then apply a cold compress to reduce swelling.
After going to the ER or seeing a doctor, they might instruct you to see a dentist. As your emergency pediatric dentist in Greenville, we can see if your child’s injured tongue or lips will affect their dental development.
Fillings That Have Fallen Out or Come Loose
There are many reasons why a filling can fall out or become loose:
- Tooth trauma
- Biting into really hard or crunchy foods
- New tooth decay around the filling
- Teeth grinding
- Chewing too hard when eating
Whatever the reason, if your child’s filling has fallen out or is loose, it’s best to consider it a kids’ dental emergency and come in to see us as soon as possible. A missing filling can expose the sensitive part of your child’s tooth and cause discomfort or pain. It also gives bacteria a chance to affect the tooth and cause decay. And it might be hard for your child to eat, play, or sleep if they’re experiencing tooth pain.
Your Emergency Children’s Dentist In Greenville, SC
Now that you’re thinking, “I should keep an emergency pediatric dentist near me on speed dial!” here’s our Greenville office contact information: 864-232-3333. If you’re calling after-hours, follow the prompts to leave a message and we’ll respond shortly.
Of course, we don’t wish dental injury on any child this summer… or anytime! But we do understand that accidents happen so we’re here to help if your kids experience a dental emergency.