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Frequently Asked Emergency Questions

Q. What should I do if my child’s baby tooth is knocked out?

A. Contact our office as soon as possible. Most baby teeth that are knocked out of the mouth do not and should not be re-implanted. However, it is important to evaluate the area for other possible accidents such as fractured roots or bones.

Q. What should I do if my child’s permanent tooth is knocked out?

A. First and foremost do not panic. If the tooth is relatively clean the best treatment is to re-implant the permanent tooth back into its socket. If the tooth is covered with debris then you can very gently rinse the knocked out tooth in room temperature water. Do not scrub the tooth. Once the debris is rinsed off, the tooth should be re-implanted back into its socket as soon as possible. Once tooth is re-implanted gently bite down on moist cloth or paper towel then contact our office immediately so that further emergency dental treatment can be accomplished. It is important to note, that the tooth may still look displaced once position back into its socket; this will be addressed by Dr. Malcolm once at the office.

If you are not comfortable re-implanting the tooth you can place the tooth in a container of milk (water if milk is not available.) Do not use ice or ice water– this great for body parts but not teeth. Once again, contact our office immediately. Call our emergency number if it is after hours.

No matter what you decide to do, understand that the tooth has a better chance of being saved if you act immediately.

Q. What should I do if my child’s tooth is fractured or chipped?

A. Contact our office as soon as possible. Some fractures are more serious than others. Our goal is to save the tooth and prevent infection. It is important to evaluate the tooth as soon as possible to reduce risk of future infections. Rinse the mouth out with water, apply a cold compress to reduce swelling . If you can find the broken pieces of the tooth they may be able to be attached to the broken tooth.

Q. What should I do if my child grinds their teeth?

Parents are often concerned about the nocturnal grinding of teeth (bruxism). Often, the first indication is the noise created by the child grinding on their teeth during sleep. Or, the parent may notice wear (teeth getting shorter) to the dentition. One theory as to the cause involves a psychological component. Stress due to a new environment, divorce, changes at school; etc. can influence a child to grind their teeth. Another theory relates to pressure in the inner ear at night. If there are pressure changes (like in an airplane during take-off and landing, when people are chewing gum, etc. to equalize pressure) the child will grind by moving his jaw to relieve this pressure.

The majority of cases of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment. If excessive wear of the teeth (attrition) is present, then a mouth guard (night guard) may be indicated. The negatives to a mouth guard are the possibility of choking if the appliance becomes dislodged during sleep and it may interfere with growth of the jaws. The positive is obvious by preventing wear to the primary dentition.

The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The grinding decreases between the ages 6-9 and children tend to stop grinding between ages 9-12. If you suspect bruxism, discuss this with your pediatrician or pediatric dentist .

Q. What do I do if my child has a toothache ?

A. Check the area to see if there is any food caught between the teeth. Brush and floss the area. Rinse with warm salt water to try and dislodge any food. If necessary please give the appropriate dosage of over the counter pain medication and call our office to make an appointment.

Q. How can we prevent dental injuries?

A. Sport related dental injuries can be reduced or prevented by wearing mouth guards. In addition, regular dental check ups will contribute to preventative care.

Q. What do I do if my child has an injury to the jaw?

A. Take him or her to the emergency room for immediate care as necessary and follow up with a dentist as soon as possible. The dentist may consult or refer you to an oral surgeon as necessary.

Q. What do I do if my child has cut or bit their tongue, lip or cheek?

A. If your child has bitten their tongue lip or cheek – there can be swelling , bleeding and discomfort. If there is bleeding you can apply direct pressure with a compress. If there is swelling use a cold compress – popsicle also works. If there is pain you can give over the counter ibuprofen at the appropriate dosage for your child’s age and weight. If you are still unsure please do not hesitate to contact our office.