The worst kind of dental issues for parents can be the unforeseen dental emergency that happens to a child. Below are some “common” emergencies and helpful tips for dealing with a child’s dental emergency should one arise.

A cracked tooth

Children don’t always understand that teeth are not completely indestructible, and will oftentimes chew on a hard item such as ice, or other objects that could crack their tooth. Roughhousing can also cause a tooth to be cracked. For a cracked tooth, it is important to identify if it is a baby tooth or an adult tooth. See your child’s dentist as soon as possible. It’s often difficult to tell if it’s a hairline crack or something more severe, so go to a pediatric dentist to have it evaluated.  Put cold compresses on the face to keep any swelling down on your way to the dentist.


Toothaches are actually fairly common in children, unfortunately, and can be caused by a variety of different situations. Impacted food can cause discomfort for a child, which can be easily dislodged with a toothbrush, dental floss or pick for more jammed items. Tooth decay may also be causing the toothache, or erupting teeth in the case of an older child.  If you’re unsure of the cause of the pain, or feel you’ve adequately addressed the issue by cleaning out the area but the pain still persists, it’s best to seek out a pediatric dentist to investigate the cause of the toothache and address it.

Knocked out tooth

Accidents happen when children play hard. If they’re not using any kind of mouthguard when playing sports, there’s an increased chance of a knocked out tooth or teeth.  It can also happen when kids fall or accidentally get hit in the mouth. If the tooth has been completely knocked out of the child’s mouth, grab the tooth (don’t touch the root of the tooth) and call your pediatric dentist immediately. It is important to determine whether it is a baby tooth or an adult tooth.  If it is a baby tooth, then just put it under the pillow for the tooth fairy, because we do not re-implant baby teeth for fear that it will negatively affect the permanent tooth bud.  If it is an afult tooth, rinse any debris off of the tooth (do not scrub), and keep the tooth moist until you can get to the dentist.  If you happen to have milk on you, put it in milk, or if you know where it goes in the mouth, you can try to re-implant it and have your child bite down on a towel to keep it in place, or have your child keep it in his/her cheek until you get to our pediatric dentist.  TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!  TRY TO GET THERE WITHIN 60 MINUTES FOR A BETTER PROGNOSIS!  If you can’t get to a dentist immediately, it’s best to go to an urgent care or emergency room so a professional can evaluate the situation.

Bitten tongue

This emergency can be frightening for both parent and child as there is often is quite a bit of blood if the bite is fairly severe.  Remain calm for your child and yourself. The goals are to control bleeding, reduce swelling and prevent infection. Apply pressure with a clean towel to slow down the bleeding. Wash out the cut area as best as you can with cool water. Wrap a few ice cubes or a small ice pack to keep the swelling at bay. If the bleeding resides in a fairly short amount of time, there should be no need to go to an emergency room or dentist.  However, if the bleeding persists or significant swelling occurs, go to a dentist or emergency room immediately to get the situation addressed, your child might need a few stitches – luckily the tongue is one of the fastest healing parts of your body.

Dental intrusion

Significant impact can drive a tooth into the jawbone. For baby teeth, this can happen when a toddler is learning to walk, and trying to get their balance while doing so. Pediatric dentists often see these kinds of injuries if the toddler falls on a hard floor or hits an object such as a chair or hearth during a fall. Again, rinse the area with cold water, apply ice to the area to reduce swelling, and contact your pediatric dentist as quickly as possible. Depending on the situation, the dentist may let the tooth come out on its own (upper teeth more often than lower teeth) or the tooth may have to be removed if the x-ray shows that it is up and affecting the permanent tooth bud. For adult teeth, your dentist will most likely let the tooth “spontaneously erupt” or come back into the mouth at the same level of the other teeth on its own.

No matter what kind of dental emergency it is, it is extremely important that you contact your pediatric dentist, because in many instances, baby teeth are treated differently than adult teeth.

Being prepared for different types of potential dental emergencies will make a parent’s reaction during the situation much more effective in a long-term positive outcome. If you ever have any questions on how to be prepared for a dental emergency, talk to your pediatric dentist to get more information.