Tips for Managing Dental Emergencies

Be Prepared: Knowing what to do in the event of a dental emergency can mean the difference between saving and losing your child’s tooth. We stand ready to help. Please keep our number available and convenient in case of an emergency (773) 293-2700. Here are some tips to help you successfully handle a dental emergency.

Do NOT try to reinsert a baby tooth. This may result in damage to the permanent tooth developing to replace it. Rather manage the bleeding at the area of tooth loss. Fold a clean gauze, cloth or paper towel into a size and thickness which can be used to apply pressure over the bleeding area or which the child can bite on. Apply pressure for 15 minutes. Prevent the child from frequent rinsing, spitting and straws for 24 hours. These activities will create suction and can cause bleeding from the area of tooth loss. Keep your child comfortable with ibuprofen and soft foods. Save the tooth to show your dentist and make an office visit to identify or rule out additional injures, confirm that the whole tooth has been lost and to make sure proper healing is occurring.
Find the tooth. Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth. Hold the tooth by its crown (the portion you see in your child’s smile). Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. Only in the event of excessive dirt, gently rinse the tooth with water and extreme caution. Gently insert and hold the tooth in its socket. A tooth that is put back into place immediately has the best chance of being saved. Have your child hold the tooth in place by biting on a clean gauze or cloth. If reinsertion isn’t possible, place the tooth between the cheek and gum (if there is no danger in swallowing it) or put the tooth into a “Save-A-Tooth” or a cup of milk or saliva. DO NOT place the tooth into tap water. Call our office and we can set up all the instruments and materials we need for your immediate visit (within 30 minutes if possible). Remember to bring the tooth with you! NOTE: a reinserted tooth may have come in contact with bacteria before being reinserted. Be alert to the potential need for a tetanus shot within 24 hours.
Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area.  Use cold compresses on the area to keep any swelling down.  Contact your pediatric dentist.  Depending on the severity of the fracture, immediate treatment might be indicated to save the tooth, prevent infection and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment.
Have the child gently bite teeth together to check for displacement. If possible, GENTLY move the displaced tooth or teeth into their correct position. This can only be done immediately before too much blood clotting occurs. Do not attempt to pull a tooth out into position if it has been pushed up into the socket. Call the office for further guidance and an appointment.
Clean the area gently with a wet paper towel and apply cold compresses/ice pack to reduce any swelling. If there is bleeding apply firm but gentle pressure with a clean gauze or cloth. If the bleeding doesn’t stop after 30 minutes or it cannot be controlled by simple pressure, go to a hospital emergency room immediately. Use of warm saltwater rinses or peroxyl can be helpful for a couple days following the incident.
Ask your child to close his or her teeth together and check for a proper relationship of the upper and lower teeth. Especially look for teeth on one side of the mouth that are not in contact when the teeth on the other side are already in proper contact. Look for muscle spasm on the inured side. The child’s jawline may appear distorted. Apply cold compresses to control swelling. If any of these findings are observed, try to keep the jaws from moving by using a towel, tie or handkerchief, then take the child to the nearest hospital emergency room or oral/maxillofacial surgeon as soon as possible. Keep the child still and calm. Make sure that the child can breathe. In case of uncontrolled bleeding or difficulty breathing, immediately call your local emergency medical service (911).
Try to gently remove the object with dental floss, avoid cutting the gums. Never use a sharp instrument to remove any object that is stuck between your teeth.
Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean it out.  Gently use dental floss or an interdental cleaner to ensure that there is no food or other debris caught between the teeth.  Never put a painkiller against the gums near the aching tooth because it may burn the gum tissue.  Avoid OTC benzocaine numbing agents in young children.  If pain persists schedule a dental appointment immediately.
Many children occasionally suffer from “cold” or “canker sores”. The mouth typically heals quickly. Avoid crunchy foods, acidic foods (citrus and tomatoes) and keep fingers out of the mouth. Please call for an appointment to assess the severity and to get individualized advice regarding helpful prescription products and/or toothpaste recommendations.