Dental Emergencies Part 2: Broken or Chipped Teeth

This is part 2 in a 4-part series during National Children’s Dental Health Month. Check back each Monday in February for more information on what to do with toothaches and infections, knocked-out teeth, and lip and tongue wounds.

The following instructions are to serve as a planning tool – it is still very important to call your dentist immediately for definitive instructions on how to handle a dental emergency. If the situation is life-threatening, call 911 or visit the ER first!

Part 2: Broken or Chipped Teeth

If your child has been hit or fell and chipped a tooth, first evaluate the tooth and area around it. You may need to rinse your child’s mouth to clean the area. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with gauze, napkin, or washcloth. If there is swelling of the lip or cheek, use cold compresses to reduce the swelling.

Sometimes the chipped tooth will need to be treated right away to ease discomfort or minimize the risk of lip and tongue damage from sharp edges. Other times, if the broken tooth is not potentially damaging and the child can eat, drink and rest normally, the situation may not require immediate attention.

As with any emergency, call your pediatric dentist to evaluate the severity of the broken tooth and the need for any treatment. Bring any broken tooth fragments (if you can find them) with you to the dentist.

We hope your child doesn’t encounter this situation. But we are parents too, and know that kids find the strangest ways to injure themselves or others. If he or she does take a tumble or a hit to the head, we are ready to help. We can usually fit in emergency cases during office hours and one of our dentists is always on call for after-hours emergencies.

(CC Photo Credit: ChrisAndJenni on Flickr)

Elizabeth Cook Miller, D.D.S., M.S. is a pediatric dentist at Atkins, Maestrello, Miller & Associates Pediatric Dentistry in Richmond, VA. She is a new mother, active runner and her favorite movie is "Finding Nemo".

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