Here’s how to handle the most common dental emergencies like a pro.
Though common in children of all ages, toothaches almost always indicate something is amiss. Toothaches can be caused by impacted food, fractures, decay, trauma and, in teens, wisdom teeth eruption.
First, check to see if food is stuck and causing discomfort. You can use a clean finger, toothbrush or dental floss to dislodge it. If pain continues, schedule a visit for your child at San Diego Smile Pros. The earlier a problem is diagnosed and treated, the less invasive treatment will be.
Dental Intrusion (Tooth Pushed Into Jawbone)
Sometimes, dental trauma forces a tooth (or several teeth) up and into the jawbone. While the prognosis is usually better for teeth that haven’t been pushed too far into the bone, every situation is different. If you suspect intrusion of your child’s primary or permanent tooth, call our pediatric dentist immediately to increase the chances the tooth can be saved.
Treatment will depend on the depth of the intrusion and whether the ligament was damaged or the socket was fractured. Sometimes, we may wait for the tooth to descend naturally. Other times, a root canal could be necessary to preserve the tooth.
Tooth Extrusion (Partly Removed)
Extrusion refers to a tooth that is partially removed from the socket. Contact our pediatric dentist if you think your child’s tooth is extruded. Primary tooth extrusions usually heal themselves without any treatment. Dental treatment is needed for permanent teeth, however, in order to save the tooth and prevent infection.
Dental Avulsion (Knocked-Out Tooth)
If a tooth has been knocked out of your child’s mouth completely, time is of the essence. Be sure to contact us right away! Our pediatric dentist always attempts to reimplant knocked-out permanent teeth, unless the trauma has caused irreparable damage. The reimplantation procedure is the most successful when done within an hour of the injury.
Find the tooth and pick it up by the crown, being careful to avoid touching the root. If you need to, you can plug the drain and gently rinse the tooth with clean water (don’t scrub!). If your child is old enough to not swallow the tooth, have them hold it in their mouth next to their cheek while you make your way to our office. You can also place the tooth in a container with cold milk or Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution to transport it.
A root fracture is caused by direct trauma to the tooth. Since the root is located below the gumline, you can’t see a root fracture just by looking at the tooth. Dental x-rays will need to be taken to confirm the diagnosis. Depending on whether or not your child is in pain and the severity and positioning of the fracture, we may monitor the tooth or perform treatment. In worst case scenarios, the tooth will need to be extracted.
When a tooth is displaced after trauma, it’s usually classified as “luxation,” “extrusion,” or “lateral displacement,” depending on the tooth’s position. A luxated tooth remains in the socket – about half of the time the pulp is still intact. However, the tooth sticks out at an odd angle and, sometimes, the underlying jawbone is fractured. Call San Diego Smile Pros right away and we’ll determine the best course of action.
The crown is the visible portion of a tooth that sits above the gumline. In most cases, it’s also the part of the tooth that sustains trauma. A crown fracture can range from a minor enamel crack (not an emergency) to a severe crack with pulp exposure (an emergency that requires immediate treatment). If your child has a crown fracture, contact our pediatric dentist and we’ll let you know if it needs treatment right away.
Our pediatric dentist can use x-rays to determine the severity of the fracture. Any change in tooth color (for example, a pinkish or yellowish tinge inside of the tooth) is a warning sign that it’s an emergency. Additionally, if the enamel is jagged, it can irritate the soft tissues of the mouth, causing infection.
For a minor crown fracture, applying a dental sealant may do the trick. A more severe crown fracture, on the other hand, could require pulp treatment.
A tooth that has received a bang or a knock, but is still in its socket and not fractured is called a “concussed” tooth. Dental concussion happens most frequently in toddlers and can cause the tooth to become discolored temporarily or permanently. However, a concussed tooth doesn’t require emergency treatment unless it turns black or dark, which indicates the tooth is dying and may need root canal therapy to save it.