Injuries among children do occur, which is why board-certified pediatric dentist Dr. Jeni Kong provides emergency care at our friendly practice in Lawrenceville, GA. If your child is a patient of record and he or she is having an urgent dental emergency that cannot wait until our office opens back up, please call our office and listen to the greeting where you can find our emergency number. A few of the common dental injuries we see include broken and chipped teeth, trauma to soft tissues, and teeth that have been knocked out. These incidents can result from chewing hard foods, an accident when playing sports, a bad spill, or blunt-force trauma. Your child may or may not feel discomfort, but it is important to have their mouth assessed following an accident to check for any damage. At Apple Tree Pediatric Dentistry, we will always make your child's dental emergency a priority by offering immediate care and tips on protecting against future issues.
Types of Dental Emergencies
What can you do to help your child in the event of a dental emergency? Please see some of our helpful tips below:
Hold the tooth by the crown, not the root. Do not try to clean the tooth or handle it unnecessarily. If the tooth is not dirty or fractured, put it back in the socket and have the child keep it there by biting on a gauze pad or a clean cloth. Do not worry if you do not place it exactly right because it is better to be in the socket than not. If the tooth is dirty, fractured, or if you can’t get it in the socket, put it in a cup with milk or the child’s saliva, and take the child and the tooth to the dentist as quickly and safely as possible. If the child is old enough, he can keep the tooth in his mouth to transport it.
While having a permanent tooth re-implanted within 30 minutes is the best course of treatment, there are many documented cases of successful re-implantation after the tooth has been out for a longer period of time. If, for any reason, you cannot make contact with our office within 30 minutes, or you are out of town, follow the instructions above and go to your nearest emergency room.
If a primary or baby tooth has been knocked out, we do not recommend saving it. Trying to re-implant a primary tooth creates too great a risk to the forming permanent teeth. We recommend that you take your child to the dentist as soon as possible to make sure that no additional damage has been done to other teeth or the jaw from the impact that knocked out the tooth.
A chipped or fractured tooth
If a tooth has been chipped or fractured, it is important to bring your child to the dentist as quickly as possible to evaluate the trauma, regardless of whether the tooth is primary or permanent. With a chip or a small fracture, the protective hard enamel of the tooth has been compromised and it is possible for bacteria to enter the pulp and nerve of the tooth and cause infection. The tooth must be sealed to keep the bacteria away. For a larger fracture, the pulp may be directly involved and immediate treatment is required to maintain the vitality of the tooth. In most cases, the tooth is not completely restored after trauma as the objective is to protect the tooth from bacteria and to allow it to heal. After several weeks, another appointment is made to place an aesthetic and functional restoration for the affected tooth. However, in situations where the displaced tooth fragment is available, the dentist can often bond it back to the broken tooth at the initial emergency appointment. This option is always preferred by the child, the parent, and the dentist! So, if you are able to locate the tooth fragment, put it in a cup of milk or the child’s saliva and bring it with the child to the dentist’s office.
If your child has an injury to the jaw, take him or her to the emergency room for immediate care as necessary, and come to the dentist as soon as possible. The dentist will check for fractures in the jaw and perform a dental exam to check for secondary fractures in the teeth. Depending on the extent of the injury, the dentist may need to consult with an oral surgeon.
Cut or bitten tongue, lip, or cheek
If your child has cut or bitten his or her tongue, lip, or cheek, there can be bleeding, swelling, and discomfort. Here are our recommended actions:
- Apply direct pressure on the bleeding area using a clean cloth.
- If swelling is present, use a cold compress to reduce the pressure and reduce the discomfort – sometimes, a popsicle works well for children.
- Take Tylenol® and Motrin® at age and weight appropriate dosages to reduce the swelling and relieve the discomfort.
- Check the area to see if there is a fractured tooth with a fragment possibly embedded in the cheek or tongue. If you need help checking the area, go to the dentist as soon as possible.
If your child complains of a toothache, it is important that you check for the cause. Here are our recommended actions:
- Check the area for a possible source of pain, such as food impaction, an erupting tooth or a “hole” or cavity in a tooth.
- If you think you see a cavity, come see us as soon as possible. An untreated cavity that is causing pain can quickly develop into an abscess, which can cause serious medical problems if left untreated.
- Try brushing and flossing to dislodge any food that may be stuck between the teeth.
- Rinse the irritated area with warm salt water and place a cold compress on the face if it is swollen.
- To treat dental pain, ibuprofen and acetaminophen (Motrin® and Tylenol®) are the primary choices. Orabase® is a good over-the-counter medication for pain related to the gum tissue. You may have heard of applying aspirin directly to gums, but please DO NOT DO THIS, as the aspirin can cause severe burns to the fragile tissue.
We are pleased to treat all types of dental emergencies for children and teenagers, even for non-patients. Your child may need emergency dental care if a restoration or tooth becomes dislodged, they have oral pain, or they suffer injury to the jaw. Some situations may seem minor, and you might be uncertain of how quickly your child should receive treatment (for example, a loose restoration or tooth, an injury that does not result in bleeding or pain, or a chip in a tooth). Knocked-out teeth, on the other hand, require immediate care and ideally should be re-implanted into the jaw within 30 minutes to achieve the best results. Anytime your child has trauma that impacts the gums, lips, teeth, or jaw, it is important to contact our office right away. Dr. Jeni and our caring team will be able to help you determine how soon to come in, offer ways to reduce pain, and tell you how to store your child's tooth or dental restoration. Even smaller injuries may lead to larger problems if not handled as soon as possible; therefore, it is best to err on the side of caution and contact our office right away.
What To Expect
Each dental emergency is different so Dr. Jeni will thoroughly evaluate your child's situation during your consultation before making a diagnosis. Digital x-rays might be taken to look for hidden issues. After Dr. Jeni understands the degree of your child's condition, she will speak with you about your options and develop a treatment plan. Your child might require one or several appointments to restore the health of their smile.
According to your child's condition, Dr. Jeni can provide instructions that will help your child recover following their procedure at Apple Tree Pediatric Dentistry. She may give you a prescription for antibiotics or recommend over-the-counter pain medications, which should be used as directed. She may also recommend that you make an appointment for a different treatment or a follow-up examination. After your child's dental emergency is treated, Dr. Jeni and our team may discuss methods to prevent potential accidents, including a custom-made mouth guard that should be worn during contact sports. Your child should continue to follow a good home oral hygiene routine with flossing and brushing to help keep the gums and teeth healthy and strong. During your child's yearly dental examination at Apple Tree Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Jeni will continue to monitor their recovery and progress.
If your child has dental insurance, we'll contact your insurer to determine coverage and benefits after Dr. Jeni has established your child's treatment plan. For those not using insurance, Apple Tree Pediatric Dentistry accepts several convenient payment methods. We can also provide information on special patient financing to help make your child's care easier to afford. Do not delay handling a dental emergency due to concerns over cost since waiting may lead to greater and more complex oral issues.
Emergency Dental Care
Anytime your child experiences pain, bleeding, or an injury to the teeth, gums, or jaw, call Apple Tree Pediatric Dentistry for urgent dental care. Dr. Jeni and our experienced staff will help to manage your child's pain and treat any oral injuries or damage as quickly as possible. Fast treatment is the key to preserving your child's oral well-being and preventing potential issues. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with our office in Lawrenceville, GA for help.