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Toddler Dental Injuries - what steps should I take as a parent?

You see your child running through the living room, and you go running after him. But despite your Super-Mommy (or Super-Daddy) Cape, you don’t make it in time before your child crashes face-first into the coffee table.

First off, if you notice any signs of a concussion (unequal pupil size, vomiting, difficulty with coordination, etc.), call your pediatrician first - they may want you to bring the child to the office or to the emergency room. You should also call your pediatrician if there is bleeding that you cannot easily stop, as your child may require stitches. You can give your child over the counter pain medication, according to the dosage based on their weight. If your child is still in pain after about 30 minutes, you should call your dentist right away. And what if your child chips or breaks a tooth?

Any dental injury, regardless of how minor it may seem, should be evaluated by your child’s dentist because there are often other injuries that might not be obvious. If your child chips a tooth, rinse their mouth with cold water, apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. Call your dentist to make an appointment the next business day and bring the tooth fragment with you if possible.

If a baby tooth is knocked out, don’t try to replant it because that could damage the permanent tooth coming in behind it. Call your dentist and let them know of the situation - they may want you to bring your child in the next day for an evaluation. The dentist will check for signs of infection and may want to take an x-ray to see if the permanent teeth were impacted.

However, if an adult tooth is knocked out, you should try to replant it as quickly as possible. Pick the tooth up by the crown (widest part), rinse in cold water if dirty (don’t scrub or use soap), put the tooth back in its socket, and have your child bite down on a clean gauze, handkerchief, or washcloth. If you can’t replant the tooth, put it in a clean container and keep it moist--a product called Save-a-Tooth is available online (and ought to be kept in the first aid kit), but other options include cold milk, saliva, saline solution, or water. Then, take your child to their dentist immediately.

Kate Volpe is the Office Manager of her husband, Dr. Wilson Aguilar-Garcia’’s practice, Sonrisas and Smiles Dental Care, located in Springfield, VA.


*If you have any dental concerns/questions for yourself or your children, please feel free to contact Sonrisas and Smiles Dental Care at 703-879-6939 - visit their website for detailed clinic information

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