No one wants to experience a medical emergency with their child. However, being prepared and knowing the signs that your child needs immediate professional attention can reduce their discomfort and potentially even save their life.
A dental emergency is a specific kind of medical emergency where your child may have a tooth infection, a broken tooth, or has lost a permanent tooth. In cases such as these, seeing an experienced dentist rather than going to the emergency room, if at all possible, is typically the best way to handle the situation.
What are the signs that your child needs emergency dental care? Read on to learn about the five most common signs that your child needs to see their dentist as soon as possible.
- Your Child Has Lost a Permanent Tooth (or a Baby Tooth Prematurely)
If your child is old enough to have most of their permanent teeth in, these teeth are meant to last for life. Should an accident or injury cause your child to lose a permanent tooth, it’s essential that they see their dentist as soon as possible. If the tooth has been knocked out, keep the tooth or any tooth fragments in milk, water, or saliva and bring them with you to the appointment, as the dentist may be able to restore it.
Should your child still have some of their baby teeth in and the tooth they’ve lost is a baby tooth, they may still need to see the dentist. Although a loose baby tooth that has come out on its own isn’t an issue, a knocked-out baby tooth or broken baby tooth will still need professional attention, as it could impact the arrival of the permanent tooth beneath it.
2. Your Child Is In Pain
If your child has pain in their mouth, this could mean they have sustained trauma to a tooth, whether as the result of an accident or because of a deep cavity or tooth infection. Although pain that goes away in a short amount of time may be an injury that has healed, such as cut gum tissue, your child’s dentist should evaluate any significant or persistent pain.
While you are waiting for your child’s appointment, you can apply a cold compress to the area if possible, or your child may be able to take pediatric over-the-counter (OTC) medication. Your Asheville dental office can let you know how to best manage your child’s pain until you can be seen.
3. Your Child Has a Chipped or Broken Tooth
Although a child’s chipped tooth may not initially seem like a big deal, the chip can extend to a crack or may have already extended into a fracture without you being able to see it. A chipped or fractured tooth should be seen by your child’s dentist as soon as possible to explore restoration possibilities.
Chipped or cracked teeth can cause symptoms such as pain, tooth sensitivity, and even loose teeth. Chips that turn into cracks can also cause the need for root canal therapy or even a tooth extraction. Generally, the sooner your child can see the dentist after the chip or fracture, the greater chance they have of the dentist being able to successfully repair the tooth with minimal treatment.
4. Your Child Has a Fever With Their Dental Symptoms
A fever that exists with any type of dental pain, such as tooth, gum, or jaw pain, could indicate that your child has a dental abscess.
A dental abscess is a tooth infection that has become more severe and needs medical attention as soon as possible. The fever may also be accompanied by foul breath or your child saying they have a bad taste in their mouth.
Your child’s dentist should evaluate even a low-grade fever that shows up along with tooth or gum pain. Dental abscesses are most commonly caused by deep tooth decay, but another issue could be present.
5. Your Child Has Jaw Pain
A dislocated or broken jaw can cause significant pain and swelling. If you suspect your child has any type of jaw trauma, it’s essential to get them to the dentist as soon as possible. Symptoms of jaw issues can include pain near one or both ears, swelling, difficulty chewing, jaw stiffness, or even numbness.
Jaw injuries can happen as the result of a sports or car accident, but your child may also have injured their jaw from a fall or impact. Swelling, redness, and pain in the jaw area are signs that your little one needs to see the dentist as soon as possible.
What to Do If Your Child Has a Dental Emergency
If your child has a dental emergency, it’s important to try and see a dentist first if you can. If the problem is severe and your child can’t wait to be seen until your dentist opens, go to the emergency room. However, it’s always worth it to seek the advice and treatment of an experienced dentist first, if possible.
Many pediatric dental practices offer emergency hours and same-day appointments so you can get your little one seen as soon as possible. Always contact your child’s dentist first or ask the receptionist for an after-hours number you could call to address your child’s dental emergency as soon as possible.
Your child’s dentist can also direct you on what to do in the meantime, whether applying ice to an injury, preserving a knocked-out tooth, or giving your child OTC medication to help ease their discomfort.
Never Wait to Get Your Child Seen
In rare cases, dental emergencies can be life-threatening. Never wait to get your child seen if you believe they are experiencing a problem that can’t wait. At Saunders DDS, we see patients of all ages and offer emergency dental care. We’re here when you need us, whether your child has something stuck in their teeth or they are facing a more serious issue such as a tooth infection. Don’t wait to get your child seen for a potential emergency—contact Saunders DDS today at (828) 277-6060 or reach us online.