Pediatric Dental Emergency

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Pediatric Dental Emergency Newton MA

Children are always on the go. Their active, energy-filled lifestyles make them even more prone to dental emergencies than adults are.

If you’re a parent, grandparent, or a primary caregiver, you can be prepared by reviewing these common pediatric dental emergencies and what to do during each situation:

Athletic Injuries

Sports injuries are probably one of the most common types of pediatric dental emergencies that we see (especially in the summertime). Blows to the mouth from contact sports, falling, or stray balls can lead to busted lips, broken teeth, and concussions.

Wearing a professionally fitted sports mouthguard can help safeguard your child. In the meantime, call the dentist immediately. Severe orofacial injuries need to be treated within the next 1-2 hours. If not, you can receive guidance on home care until you’re able to get into the office.

Child dental patient with dentist | pediatric dental emergency

Knocked Out Baby Tooth

Baby teeth are important placeholders. Fortunately, depending on when you lose one, there may be an adult tooth right behind it. If your child knocks out a primary tooth, you’ll need to see the dentist to make sure there’s no damage to the underlying permanent one or remaining tooth fragments in the gums. Watch the surrounding teeth for any signs of discoloration or bruising in the soft tissues around them.

Most likely your child will experience some bleeding and minor pain. An over-the-counter pain reliever is appropriate. You can also have them hold a cool compress against their face for 20 minutes at a time.

Knocked Out Adult Tooth

Fast action is essential. Get your child — and the tooth — to the dentist’s office within the next hour or two. Never touch the tooth root, as this could interfere with reimplantation. Instead, only handle it by the crown and then store it completely submerged in milk, saline, or contact solution.

If the tooth is knocked loose, don’t wiggle it. It’s best to have your dentist splint it in place so that it can restabilize over the upcoming months.

Chipped Front Teeth

Each year, dozens of kids in the community experience chipped front teeth. If you store the fragment in milk or saline and bring it straight to our office, we may be able to bond it back into place. Smaller chips can be smoothed out to minimize irritation from the sharp edge.

And if your child bumped their mouth pretty hard but the tooth didn’t chip, watch the gums for bruising or any darkening to the tooth over the upcoming months.

Busted Lip

Our mouths are highly vascular. If your child bumps their face during everyday activities, it’s common for the front teeth to accidentally cut into the lips. At first there may be heavy bleeding. Use a clean gauze or cloth to apply gentle pressure until the bleeding subsides. If it gets worse, go to the emergency room.


Is your child complaining of tooth pain? Take a brief look to see if it’s associated with an adult tooth that’s erupting. Then, look for visible darkening, holes, or accumulated food debris in other teeth. Give your child an age-appropriate anti-inflammatory pain reliever such as Motrin to temporarily manage discomfort. Since baby teeth tend to decay at a rapid rate (they’re not as dense as adult teeth) it’s crucial to have toothaches treated before they evolve into abscessed teeth.

Abscessed Tooth

Children can experience abscessed teeth and may or may not have pain that coincides with the infection. As a parent, you’ll want to look for a small pimple (called a “fistula”) on the gums near the tooth. If the swelling begins to spread into the mouth and side of the face, bring your child to the nearest emergency room. Otherwise make it a point to plan a dental appointment ASAP.

Orthodontic Emergencies

Children in braces can occasionally experience orthodontic emergencies such as broken appliances, displaced wires, or even soft tissue lacerations. If you can’t get into the orthodontist’s office, you can also see a family dentist (and it’s even better if they’re both one and the same!)

Try to keep orthodontic wax on hand to cover any areas temporarily (especially wires or rough brackets.) Occasionally it may be necessary to use nail clippers to trim, or a pencil eraser to bend, a wire that’s poking into your child’s cheek.

Where to Get Help

Having an ongoing relationship with a family dentist makes it easy to access personalized family and pediatric dentistry when you need it. As a parent, you want a care team you know and trust. We encourage you to contact us immediately if your child is in pain.

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