Emergency Dental Care at our South Bay Pediatric Dentistry
Kids get all kinds of bumps and bruises during childhood, and dental problems are often among those experiences. Treating dental problems early can prevent more problems as your child grows. It's crucial that you understand what a dental emergency is, how to recognize one, and what to do if it happens to your child.
What dental emergencies can kids have?
Dental emergencies in kids are very similar to those that adults experience. However, because kids are much smaller than adults, small areas of concern can develop into more significant problems much quicker. In addition, postponing treatment can complicate the situation and even impact the development of a child's permanent teeth.
Broken or Fractured Teeth
Whether the tooth is a primary (baby) tooth or a permanent (adult) tooth, it requires emergency treatment if it is fractured or broken. Once a tooth breaks, it can be very easy for oral bacteria to make their way into the pulp (or nerve) of the tooth. This is especially true for primary teeth as the tooth's nerve takes up more room than it does in a permanent tooth. Therefore, the nerve can be exposed even if just a small portion of the tooth breaks.
Gather any broken pieces you find and place them in a small container filled with milk. Sometimes these pieces can be bonded back into place. Next, call us at 424-999-5478 to schedule an appointment at our Torrance Pediatric Dentistry. If your child is in pain after-hours call us at 424-999-5478. In a dire situation you can take your child to the emergency room.
If your child is not experiencing any dental pain, you can purchase dental wax from a drug store or supermarket. This wax can be rolled in a ball and then placed in the broken area. This will prevent bacteria from entering the nerve, and it will also cover any sharp spots that may bother your child's cheek and tongue.
If the area is bleeding, use a clean cloth or gauze and firmly apply pressure to the site. You may also apply a cold compress and use over-the-counter pain medications if needed.
Toothache Pain and Pressure
It can be hard to determine if your child is experiencing a real toothache or having a different type of pain or discomfort. To find out what kind of pain they are having, you may need to ask them a few questions.
First, ask if they have any pressure or pain in their ear. If they are having pain in an ear, they are experiencing a toothache. If they don't have any pain in their ear and you expect they are feeling pressure and discomfort rather than pain, consider how old they are and if they may be teething.
Teething presents many symptoms and can often be confused with a toothache. If you are unsure, play it safe and call us. You can have your child rinse with a warm salt-water solution (1/2 teaspoon of salt mixed in 8 ounces of water) and administer over-the-counter pain medication as needed.
Tooth Decay (Cavities)
Dental decay often first presents as sensitivity. For example, if your child experiences a "zing" of pain when eating anything cold or sweet, they may have a cavity. Decay in both primary and permanent teeth needs to be treated promptly. However, decay in primary teeth must be treated more quickly. Like we mentioned earlier, the nerve of a primary tooth is much closer to the enamel (outer tooth covering) than it is in a permanent tooth. That means that decay can get into the nerve much more quickly. Once decay is into the nerve of a tooth, it will require a root canal. (And yes, primary teeth can need root canals!)
An avulsed tooth is one that has been knocked out accidentally. Both primary and permanent avulsed teeth must be treated quickly to save the tooth.
If your child has an avulsed tooth, pick up the tooth by holding the crown portion, not the roots. Run the tooth under water if it is dirty, but do not scrub it or remove any connected tissue. Try to place the tooth back in the socket if you know which way it sits, and the child is old enough not to swallow the tooth. Do not force the tooth into place. If you cannot replace the tooth, put it in a container filled with milk.
Call us at 424-999-5478 immediately. The sooner an avulsed tooth is treated, the more likely treatment will be successful.
This is a much more severe dental emergency. Symptoms of a broken jaw include:
The child is unable to open their mouth
The jaw moves sideways when opened
The teeth appear uneven after an accident
The child is unable to bite down properly
If your child has any of these symptoms, go to your local emergency room immediately.
A Common Misconception about Primary Teeth
We often get asked why patients should worry about preserving and treating primary teeth. They're going to lose them anyway, right?
We understand this question. However, primary teeth serve a larger purpose (other than chewing).
Primary teeth are meant to hold space for permanent teeth. If primary teeth are lost prematurely, it can cause all the teeth to shift. When this happens, the permanent teeth become crowded and crooked. If the space is compromised enough, there may not even be room for the permanent teeth to erupt.
Children who have lost teeth too early will face more serious complications later. They will need pediatric orthodontic treatment, sometimes with specialized procedures to fix the malalignment.
Also, if a primary tooth gets infected, it can infect the permanent tooth sitting in the jaw underneath it. The permanent tooth will then require treatment once it erupts.
If your child gets an infected primary tooth or loses a tooth too early, we can help to prevent future problems. Call the best pediatric dentist today 424-999-5478 with any questions.