Dental Emergencies/Trauma

Girl on a slide We reserve a specific time every day for emergency care. If your child needs emergency treatment, please call us as early in the day as possible. If your child has a dental emergency when we are not in the office, please call our main number and follow the instructions for reaching the doctor.

There are a few things a parent can do to evaluate a dental emergency and make your child more comfortable:

  • Stay Calm! – Injuries to the mouth, face, and teeth occur very frequently in children.
  • If your child has a head injury, you should have your child see a physician immediately. If there are any cuts or breaks in the skin, you should review your child’s tetanus vaccination status with his or her physician.
  • Try to stop any bleeding with a clean washcloth or gauze. As you do this, check for broken and/or missing teeth. If there are missing teeth, look for the teeth.

Broken Tooth

Gently clean or rinse dirt from the area around the broken tooth. Place a cold compress on the face in the area of the broken tooth to minimize lip or facial swelling. Recover any broken tooth fragments if possible. Get immediate attention if the fracture is taking up more than 1/3 of the tooth.

Knocked-Out Tooth

For permanent teeth: Recover the tooth and hold it by the crown (not the root). The crown of the tooth is the visible part above the gum that you see everyday. If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse it in cold water, but DO NOT scrub or handle the root unnecessarily. Try to replace the tooth into the socket. Have the child hold the tooth in place by closing on a gauze pad or washcloth. If the tooth cannot be reinserted, place the tooth in cold milk. Because time is essential, go to the dentist immediately.

For primary (baby) teeth: Teeth are not re-implanted. It is important that you evaluate the tooth to make sure that there is not a missing piece. Call your dentist to see if any further evaluation or treatment is necessary.


Little girl Rinse the mouth with warm water. DO NOT place aspirin on the gums or tooth! If there is swelling, apply a cold compress to the outside of the face. For temporary relief give your child children’s ibuprofen (children’s Advil) or children’s acetaminophen (children’s Tylenol) for pain or as directed by your physician. Call the dentist.

Go to the nearest emergency room if your child has a swelling which is interfering with breathing, swallowing or opening the eye.

Tongue BITE or Lip or Cheek

If there is bleeding apply gentle pressure with a clean cloth or gauze. Apply an ice compress to the injured area. If bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes or if bleeding is extreme, go to a hospital emergency room.

Possible Broken Jaw

Do not move the jaw. Stabilize the jaw by tying a towel, necktie, etc… under the jaw and over the top of the head. Apply cold compresses. Go to an oral surgeon or hospital emergency room immediately.

Objects Caught Between the Teeth

Try to remove the object with dental floss. You may tie one or two small knots in the floss to help remove the debris. Do not use a sharp metal object or toothpick. Go to the dentist if you cannot remove the object.

Bleeding After a Baby Tooth Falls Out

Fold a gauze pad or clean washcloth over the bleeding area and keep it in place for 15 minutes. If bleeding continues, see a dentist.

Cold or Canker Sores

Some children will get these sores periodically. Using over the counter medications will usually give relief. If the sores persist or are extreme, see the dentist.

Orthodontic Emergencies

If there is a loose bracket that is irritating the lips or gums, attempt to remove the bracket with a tweezers and place it in an envelope. If there is a loose wire sticking into the cheek, see if you can place it into the tube attached to the band on one of the back teeth. If the wire is lodged or painful to remove, cover protruding edges with wax. Emergency attention is usually not required for loose or broken appliances that cause no discomfort. However, it is important that you follow up with a dentist to prevent food impaction around the appliances or other complications.

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