As a parent, it’s one of the calls you hope never to receive – your child has been injured and suffered dental trauma. What should you do? First, begin by assessing whether your child needs to go to a hospital emergency room as a result of their injuries. If not, contact your dentist immediately. In the meanwhile, apply cold and pressure to the area as needed to deal with any bleeding or swelling in the mouth resulting from the injury.
As an aside, it is best to find out what kind of emergency, including after-hours services, your dentist offers at the time that you choose a dentist for your child (and know how to reach the office after hours) so that you are not scrambling to find a dentist to see your child after an injury has occurred.
If your child has injured their tongue, gums or lips, do not panic. Often these types of injuries bleed a lot but may look worse than they actually are. Your dentist will advise if stitches, x-rays or other follow-up is necessary. If your child has chipped or broken teeth, it may be possible to reattach the pieces, so bring them with you to the dentist if you can. Be aware that any trauma to baby teeth may result in the teeth discolouring after the accident. Your child may require follow-up to determine if the tooth’s nerve has been damaged.
If your child has loosened or knocked out baby teeth, unfortunately, it is unlikely that the dentist will attempt to put them back in (but adult teeth will eventually grow in). Your child should still see the dentist to ensure that no other dental injury has been suffered, as injuries to baby teeth can also affect the development of adult teeth.
If your child has knocked out an adult tooth, it may be possible to re-implant the tooth if you can get to your dentist quickly, ideally within two hours. If possible, transport the tooth by holding it in its socket in the mouth, or alternatively, in a container with cold milk. Avoid touching the end of the tooth that is usually embedded in the gums.
Finally, and most importantly, reassure your child that they will be ok so that they stay calm. Rest assured that their dentist will have them smiling again in no time!