How to Know If Your Child Needs Emergency Dental Care

emergency dental care

Top Signs to Indicate Your Child Is Having a Dental Emergency

When your child is experiencing any form of oral discomfort, it’s understandable to feel distressed.

Especially if they cannot articulate the cause of their pain, you might not know what to look for or where to turn.

How do you know when they need emergency dental care, or if it’s an issue you can handle yourself? While we always encourage you to call your dental office out of precaution, there are some instances in which at-home treatments are appropriate.

Today, we’re sharing a few of the top signs that your child is in the middle of a dental emergency and it’s time to contact your pediatric dentist immediately. Read on to learn the symptoms to know.

Excessive Gum Bleeding

The American Dental Association (ADA) explains that changes in your child’s flossing routine could trigger bleeding gums. For instance, if your child usually flosses every day but goes a few days between sessions, they could experience slight bleeding when they pick the habit up again.

In addition, another action that could cause your child’s gums to bleed is vigorous brushing. For most children, these symptoms will clear up within a week of establishing a regular flossing routine or gently brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush.

However, gums that continue to bleed, or any bleeding gums accompanied by redness, soreness, foul-smelling breath, or a receding gum line could point to a more serious issue. If any of these symptoms are present, it’s time to contact your pediatric dentist.

Broken Tooth

Especially if your child plays sports, it’s not uncommon for them to experience broken, chipped, or fractured teeth. These dental emergencies can also result from simple accidents or rough play.

In any case, the experience can be incredibly painful and it’s important to act immediately. Contact your pediatric dentist for an emergency appointment as soon as you can. If you’re able to locate the fragment from the fractured tooth, bring it with you in wet gauze or a wet towel. In the meantime, a cold compress and children’s pain medication can help ease your child’s discomfort.

Knocked-out Tooth

Your child’s baby teeth will fall out naturally at various times during their childhood. If they lose one of these (without trauma), it’s a normal part of their development. However, if a baby tooth is knocked loose forcefully, it could damage the adult tooth underneath. If this occurs, it constitutes a dental emergency.

Do not try to put a baby tooth back into the socket, but do make an appointment with your pediatric dentist immediately. Handle the tooth by the crown (not the root) and place it in milk, saliva, or saline en route to the office.

If your child has an adult tooth knocked out, the procedure is a little different.

Again, it’s critical to see your pediatric dentist at once, preferably within the first 30 minutes. Hold the tooth by the crown, not the root, and never scrub it. If it’s dirty, you can rinse it briefly in milk or tap water.

If you can position the tooth back in your child’s mouth, do so gently using a clean cloth or gauze pad. Your child can bite down on a soft cloth or tissue to hold the tooth in place, or they can hold it under their tongue. If you can’t replant the tooth, you can bring it to the dentist in a small container of milk, saliva, or a saline solution.

Other Dental Injuries

Sometimes, your child’s tooth might not be knocked out, but it could still experience another form of injury. If this happens, it’s wise to book an emergency dental visit to ensure against additional trauma.

For instance, your child’s tooth could become moved from its original position, such as pushed forward or backward. This is called a luxation. Use a clean washcloth to move the tooth back into place and head immediately to your emergency pediatric dentist. A quick response time is critical to ensure that the tooth does not begin to heal in place.

Your child’s heir tooth could also become pushed up into their gums or jawbone, sometimes to the point of becoming invisible. This is called an intrusion and again, emergency dental care is necessary.

Tooth Sensitivity

Children’s teeth can also become sensitive to hot or cold foods. While this initial pain can be alarming, there are a few factors that could be causing the pain, and not all of them are emergencies.

In fact, many of them you can manage from home, with a few adjustments to your child’s oral health routines. Tooth sensitivity can be caused by the following:

  • Poor brushing habits
  • Cavities
  • Sinus issues
  • Teeth grinding
  • Losing baby teeth

If cavities or tooth decay are to blame, it’s wise to go ahead and book an emergency appointment with your dentist. Teeth grinding is also a topic to discuss, though not necessarily a time-sensitive emergency. A condition known as bruxism, involuntary grinding can wear down your child’s tooth enamel. Your dentist can help uncover the root of the issue and suggest treatments to reverse it.

Otherwise, reducing tooth sensitivity could begin with implementing proper brushing techniques at home.

Make sure your child is brushing gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush to help maintain their tooth enamel. If sinuses or lost baby teeth are behind the pain, this discomfort usually resolves on its own over time. However, your dentist can offer reassurance and ensure there isn’t a bigger issue, such as a cavity or abscess, at play.

Tooth Pain When Biting

Does your child complain of tooth pain when biting down on hard foods?

There are a few reasons why this might be the case, and not all of them are cause for major concern. For instance, your child might just have food stuck in their teeth. If you can see the food, ask them to rinse their mouth or floss the area gently. If the pain persists, check for any abnormalities.

In some cases, tooth pain when eating or biting can be attributed to cavities, tooth trauma, or tooth decay. If the pain only occurs when chewing, it could also be linked to a cracked tooth. This can turn into a dental emergency depending on the location of the crack and can even lead to infection, so it’s important to see your pediatric dentist immediately.

To alleviate the pain at home, make a cold compress for your child. You can also administer children’s pain medicine and ask them to swish gently with a saltwater rinse.

Persistent Tooth Pain

Tooth pain can range from minor irritation to a true dental emergency.

As with the biting-specific pain, first check to see if your child has any food or an object stuck in their teeth. Then, rinse their mouth with warm water. If the pain is mild, you can treat it with children’s pain medication until you can bring your child to the dentist.

If your child experiences any form of facial swelling, the situation is more urgent and an emergency visit is necessary.

Contact us for emergency dental care.

If your child is experiencing a dental emergency, you should know exactly who to call and how to get the help you need. If you’re in the Omaha area, we’d love to be that resource for you.

Our trained pediatric dentist is here for your family, whenever the need arises. If you require emergency dental care, you can reach us by calling the number on our contact page.