In the absence of a professional, a dental emergency can be quite a harrowing experience for the child or even the parent/caregiver. The best thing you can do in a dental emergency is to stay calm and plan the next best steps.

If it is not possible to send the child to an emergency dentist, here are some of the things you can do for a variety of situations, to mitigate the dental crisis before professional help is sought:

Milk teeth

Even if your child’s teeth are not permanent, they would still require the same kind of care and attention that you would give to adult teeth. Trauma to baby teeth may also damage the gums and the permanent teeth that have yet to emerge. The same is true of tooth decay in milk teeth. Do not leave them unattended simply because they will be falling out. Untreated decay in milk teeth can affect the gums and permanent teeth hiding underneath.

Knocked out permanent tooth

Unlike milk teeth that cannot be re-implanted, your child’s permanent teeth may be reattached, provided you do not take longer than two hours to insert the tooth back into position. The best thing to do immediately after the child’s permanent tooth is knocked out is to rinse the tooth and place it in a container of milk and take the child to see a dentist immediately. If you cannot get to a dentist on time, gently place the tooth back into the socket and tell the child to bite firmly on a handtowel or clean gauze. The trick is to exert pressure (with the biting) while holding the tooth in place until it has a chance to settle back into position. If bleeding occurs, apply firm pressure to the site.

Broken or dislodged tooth

If you can see the reddish dental pulp exposed by the broken tooth, you will need to send the child to an emergency room that offers specialised children’s dental services. If the traumatised tooth changes colour, immediately consult a dentist to make sure the nerves or blood supply to the tooth has not been compromised. Whichever the case, collect the fragments of the broken tooth and see a dentist immediately. You may gently apply cold compression on the child’s face around the area of the injury.

Cut lips, gums, cheek or tongue

Unless the cut is very large, you don’t have to worry, as the wound will heal by itself. Bitten lips, cheeks or tongue are rather common. Applying ice to the swollen or bruised area can relieve the symptoms. If there is bleeding, apply a firm but gentle pressure to the injury site until the bleeding stops. If the bleeding persists beyond 15-20 minutes, send the child to the nearest emergency room for assistance. For cuts that are larger than quarter of an inch, it is best to take the child to your emergency dentist or general practitioner, just to be on the safe side.

Always have an emergency dentist contact on standby. In the event of a dental crisis, the emergency dental team at Albany Dental can be reached at (07) 3264 9590.