What’s A Dental Emergency and What Should I Do?


When your child hurts, it is a disturbing event. Dental emergencies are no exception. Every parent wants to do the right thing. Some injuries to the mouth or teeth are more severe than others. If you aren’t sure it’s an emergency, call your dental practice. Any pediatric dental emergency should be taken seriously.

There are things you can do at home to relieve discomfort and to minimize damage before you see your dentist. Here are four common types of emergencies that require you to take some action:

A Toothache

Children can be especially troubled by a painful toothache. You can reduce the pain and reassure your child that it will be temporary.

  • First, rinse his or her mouth with warm water. Then look for any food or other item trapped between the teeth. If so, it can be removed by gently flossing the area.
  • Next, reduce the pain. Use a cold compress to reduce or relieve any swelling. You can give your child an oral pain reliever but don’t apply a topical pain reliever to the tooth or gums
  • Finally, schedule an appointment with your dental practice for an exam. Tell your child that her dentist will find the problem and fix it.

A Loose Tooth

If your child has a very loose tooth, if possible, remove it. This is particularly important for young children who might swallow or inhale it. If you can’t get it out, contact your dentist.

A Chipped, Broken, or Fractured Tooth

Children do occasionally suffer a broken, chipped or fractured tooth. The first step is to rinse his or her mouth out with warm water, and then reduce the swelling with a cold compress. If possible, find and save the fragment. Then, contact your dentist.

A Knocked-Out Tooth

If your child experiences a knocked out tooth, fast action is critical. You have to be very careful to find the tooth, rinse it with warm water, and place in a container with milk. Only touch the crown of the tooth! Contact your dentist or head straight to the hospital. If you take quick action, a dentist might be able to save the tooth.

If you have a young athlete who plays contact sports, make sure he or she wears an appropriate mouthguard when in play. A custom-fitted mouthguard will stay in place and prevent most dental injuries.

Remember, healthy teeth make a healthy smile!

Dr. Nishan Halim

Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in adult and pediatric dentistry with restorative and cosmetic procedures, as well as preventive dentistry, in his Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. At your child’s next appointment ask our treatment team to discuss any concerns you have about dental emergencies. 

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