It seems a universal law that anytime my kids get hurt, it happens on a weekend or after hours–and that includes things like falling on their face and breaking a tooth. As a mom of four very rambunctious kids, I’ve sadly now dealt with more than one chipped or broken tooth. Here’s a quick overview of what to do if it happens to you:
Alright, so your kid has just slipped, fallen, or had something flung at his/her face and blood is everywhere, what do you do?
First, take at least a moment to breathe, try your best to stay calm and not freak out. Then, start cleaning away blood and identify the source, as this article is about tooth injuries in kids, let’s assume it’s in the mouth. Chances are you’ll find the actual wound is far less severe than the blood level suggests. Head and mouth wounds always bleed a lot.
Once you’ve found the source, apply pressure to help stop the bleeding. Luckily, mouth wounds typically stop bleeding fairly quickly (often within about 20 minutes), though blood may be present in drool for a few hours. While you’re applying pressure and offering hugs and cuddles, give the rest of your child’s head a quick look. Chipped and broken teeth are often the result of falls, and there may be other injuries as well.
Evaluate the situation:
Keep in mind that your child’s gums are going to be puffy and swollen which can make things appear worse than they are. For example, the broken tooth may look like it’s at the gum line even if it’s just broken in half. Many dentists recommend that you wait until the swelling resides before trying to assess the situation. Offering anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as Motrin or Ibuprofen can help your child feel more comfortable and bring the swelling down.
If there are no other injuries outside of the broken or chipped tooth, and the injury isn’t severe, don’t bother with the ER. They can’t do anything but offer pain relief until a dentist is available anyway. If the tooth was an adult tooth, and entirely knocked out, try to find it, place it in milk, and call an after-hours dentist. In some cases, a knocked-out tooth can be put back in. Offer fluids, but be careful of cold/hot options. If the nerve of the tooth is exposed, this may cause pain. Opt for soft foods until you can get a dental appointment. You may also want to watch for signs of a concussion, depending on how the tooth was chipped or broken.
What will the dentist do?
If your child has only chipped the tooth a bit, chances are it will be filed smooth and sealed. For larger chips or fractures, the tooth may be capped or a white filling attached. If it’s a baby tooth and could affect the growth of the permanent teeth under the surface, it may be pulled. A dentist evaluation is necessary in any case.