Time is a critical factor when it comes to an oral injury. We can usually repair damage sustained from an injury, but it requires that you come in right away. As one of Houston’s best emergency dentists, we know how important it is to give your child immediate, expert care after sustaining an injury.
Accidents happen, and sometimes they may result in a cracked, broken, or knocked out tooth, or even a filling or crown. When something like this happens, you may need to visit an emergency pediatric dentist in Houston. We are prepared to help you and your child with an emergency dental situation by providing fast service to repair the damage as quickly as possible, maximizing the chances of a full recovery without any lasting changes.
What Is Considered A Dental Emergency?
A condition can generally be considered a dental emergency needing immediate attention if one of the following occurs:
- Knocked out (avulsed) tooth
- Broken or cracked teeth
- Severe bite or cut to the tongue, cheeks, or lips
- Broken or fractured jaw (which must be addressed at a hospital emergency room)
Some emergencies can come from an internal issue, such as an infection. Be aware of any of these signs your child may be experiencing:
- Severe or sustained toothache
- Bleeding from the gums
In the event your child needs an emergency dentist, remember that time is critical to fixing any issue. The sooner you come in to visit us, the better we can repair the damage.
Avulsed (Knocked Out) Teeth
Teeth may get knocked out as the result of an accident, such as a fall or getting hit by an object. If a tooth is knocked out, it’s important to come to our emergency dentist office immediately so we can replace the tooth and check for other injuries.
An avulsed, or knocked-out tooth can be saved and reinserted under most circumstances, but whether or not it should be saved depends on what kind of tooth it is.
- Primary (baby) teeth: Should not be replaced into the socket of the gums as they can interfere with the growth of the adult tooth that would take its place.
- Permanent (adult) teeth: Should be saved, and we may be able to replace it in the socket, though timing is an important factor in this restoration.
Primary Tooth Knocked Out
If a baby tooth gets knocked out by accident, do not try to place it back in the socket. Placing it back in can damage the permanent tooth under the gum line. However, if the tooth is knocked out, it is still important to come into our office. We will examine your child’s mouth to make sure no other teeth or bones were damaged.
Permanent Tooth Knocked Out
If a permanent adult tooth gets knocked out, time is critical to replacing it. When handling a permanent tooth that has been knocked out:
- Gently rinse any dirt off the tooth with room temperature water (do not scrub the tooth).
- Hold the tooth by the crown at all times (never by the roots).
- If possible, place the tooth back into the socket and have your child hold it in place while coming to our office.
- If you cannot place it in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with milk or your child’s saliva, then come to our office
Once you bring us the knocked out tooth, we can begin work right away to replace it in the socket it fell out of. We take great care to ensure that the tooth is properly cleaned and gently reinserted into the gum line to prevent any other injury. We will also examine the other teeth and jaw to ensure no other damage has occurred from the accident.
Cracked or Broken Teeth
Quick assessment after cracking or breaking a tooth will help determine how extensive the damage is and how likely we will be able to repair it. We will look at the tooth, its roots, and the surrounding tissue and bone to ensure no infections have formed as a result of the damage.
Another common result of an accident is a chipped, cracked, or broken tooth. Regardless of the extent of the visible damage, you should schedule an appointment immediately after the tooth breaks. If it is fully broken, we are more likely to repair it with an immediate visit, but if it looks only minorly chipped, there could still be underlying damage that cannot be seen.
Cracked / Broken Primary Tooth
Baby teeth will eventually be replaced by permanent adult teeth as your child gets older, but that doesn’t mean a chipped or broken tooth should be ignored. If your child is experiencing pain after a tooth is cracked or broken, or if it has become very loose, come in immediately so we can evaluate the condition of the tooth and surrounding area. Typically, in these cases, we would remove the tooth, and it’s possible that a space maintainer may be necessary to keep the gap from closing before the permanent tooth comes in.
If your child does not appear to be in pain from a cracked or broken baby tooth, it’s still strongly recommended you bring them in for an evaluation. Schedule an appointment and we will check the tooth and surrounding area to make sure there is no other damage or signs of infection.
Cracked / Broken Permanent Tooth
When a permanent tooth is broken, it is very important that you come in immediately. Time is critical to repairing broken teeth, and the longer you wait, the less likely it can be fully repaired. At home, Tylenol or Motrin can be used to reduce the pain, and a small amount of Vaseline or lip balm over a crack can reduce the tooth’s sensitivity to air and pressure.
At our office, we will assess your child’s tooth, looking to determine the extent of the fractures or breaks. If the fracture is very large, a root canal treatment may be necessary, along with another a few years later.
Loose teeth are a very common occurrence for young children, as it usually means their primary (baby) teeth are about to fall out before being replaced by their permanent (adult) teeth. If a permanent tooth becomes loose though, that can definitely be a major issue and should be assessed by a pediatric dentist immediately.
Loose Primary Tooth
Typically, this is not a cause for concern at all. If your child discovers that one of his or her teeth is becoming loose, encourage them to gently wiggle it about every day. This gentle wiggling will loosen the tooth more and more until the roots completely let go and the tooth comes out. Sometimes the tooth may come out on its own from wiggling, and sometimes it may come out while eating.
If an adult tooth is coming in, but the primary tooth is still in place, schedule an appointment with us to remove the baby tooth. If the baby tooth is still in place while the adult tooth is coming in, the adult tooth may not align properly, which can require future dental appointments to correct.
Loose Permanent Tooth
Permanent teeth may become loose after an accident, such as a fall or impact to the head. If all of the teeth appear to be intact and not broken in any way, gently touch them to see if any are loose or cause pain. If there is a tooth that is not very loose, but some blood is coming from the gums under it, an appointment is probably not necessary. Simply monitor the tooth for any color changes or looseness. Keep your child on a diet of soft foods to prevent irritating the affected teeth. In a short amount of time, the bleeding should stop on its own and the tooth will tighten in place.
If a tooth is dislodged, either impacted down into the bone, pulled out, or pushed to the side of its normal position, schedule an appointment immediately. We need to perform x-rays to determine the extent of any damage under the gum line, check for root damage, and determine what sort of treatment is necessary to repair the teeth.
Any tooth that has been traumatized from an impact may change color over time, usually darkening. This darkening means that the roots have been damaged, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the tooth needs to be pulled. Baby teeth can become discolored in different ways, ranging from a pink color to dark grey. Monitor any discolored teeth closely after an impact trauma and look for signs pointing to serious issues. If your child complains about tooth pain, constant fiddling with an impacted tooth, or if you find an abscess in the gums under a tooth, schedule an appointment with us immediately. These could be signs of an infection, and swift care must be taken to prevent it from spreading.
Lost Filling or Crown
If a crown is recovered after being knocked out of place, you may be able to re-secure it using dental cement from a pharmacy. Otherwise, if the filling or crown is lost, or if other dental implants have come loose, you may need to come into our office to have them repaired or replaced.
Fillings and Crowns
If a dental injury causes a crown or filling to come out, your child may need to come into our office so we can assess how best to proceed with repairing it. It is possible that a new filling or crown will need to be prepared and used to replace the old one, depending on the extent of any damage. If a filling or crown falls out, clove oil can help reduce pain, or you can use Tylenol or Motrin as directed to reduce any pain caused by a lost filling or crown.
- If you still have the crown and it is intact, clean it off, especially inside, and place it back on the tooth if possible. You can purchase tooth cement from a local pharmacy to fix the crown in place.
If the crown or filling is lost entirely, cover the tooth with dental cement and come into our office so we can begin making a new filling or crown.
Other Dental Apparatuses
Some dental implants such as space maintainers can be removed if they break. If you are unable to remove them, cover any sharp points with gauze, cotton balls, gum, or dental wax and come into our office so we can remove them.
- If an orthodontic apparatus has broken and punctured the gums, cheek, tongue, or dislodged a tooth, do not remove the apparatus, but contact us immediately. It will likely be necessary for you to bring your child in so we can assess the apparatus and remove it ourselves, treating any injuries in the process.
If an apparatus has broken but is not harming or bothering your child, you can schedule an appointment at a later time to have it repaired or replaced.