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What should I do in case my child chipped or knocked out a tooth?
Children’s active lifestyles are normal and a healthy part of growing up. However, it is not uncommon for a child to be injured on the playground, in the neighbourhood, or while playing sports. One of the most frequent types of injuries for kids involves their teeth. Since children still have some baby teeth at certain ages, along with some of their adult teeth, either type may be chipped or damaged during rough play or if an accident occurs. If your child chips a tooth or gets one knocked out, here are some important steps to keep in mind.
- Stay calm
- Provide First aid
- Call a professional
- Follow directions form a professional
- Help your child relax
- Transport the child to a relevant place
- Follow up
Chipped Tooth – Stay Calm
This may seem obvious, but many parents get upset or even hysterical. Especially if the child is crying or the mouth is bleeding. Seeing a tilted, chipped, or missing tooth can also be upsetting for some parents. However, problems like these are usually fixable. So it is important for parents to remain calm and set the example for the child, who may be truly frightened or in pain. Decide what your priority actions should be, and don’t wait. Other situations warrant a visit to the office.
Provide First Aid if Needed
If the child has scraped his or her face on concrete or anywhere, wash it gently and apply an ice pack if it will not disturb the dental issue. Clean the child’s hands if there is time. However, don’t worry too much about cleaning up the child or changing clothes that are muddy or bloody. The main thing is to keep him or her calm and have the problem promptly evaluated by an orthodontist. Severe bleeding or swelling around the mouth or in the throat, along with any other serious injuries that may have occurred during the incident. They may be potentially emergency situations, so call EMS promptly as the first step for these types of symptoms. This is more than a chipped tooth scenario.
Call the Orthodontic Office
You may want to call your dentist first to get an orthodontic referral. Then contact the orthodontist’s office or after-hours line to describe the problem. You may get the answering service, but if so, leave a clear and detailed message. Indicate the severity of the injury and observable symptoms. If you reach the orthodontic practice during regular office hours, the person who answers the phone will direct your call or forward your message to an office nurse, a nurse practitioner, or the orthodontist. Someone will then either speak to you on the phone or call you back. they will advise you how to proceed with your child’s dental problem.
Follow Directions from the Orthodontic Office
Take notes if needed while speaking to someone in the orthodontic office. You may be asked to give your child a certain type of pain reliever or to avoid certain activities. Jot down specific details so you can follow them readily, including how to bring your child to the office, if needed. If one or more teeth have been knocked out and you can find them, you may be asked to pack it in a certain way and bring it to the office with you.
If an appointment is made later in the day or on another day, ask for instructions on how to care for the dental problem until the appointment. For example, the child may be advised to continue brushing their teeth, or not. Certain foods and beverages may be recommended to be avoided. Keep track of all guidelines.
Help the Child to Relax
Dental injuries can be somewhat traumatic. Depending on the child’s age and whether you are taking him or her to the ER or orthodontic office, try to help the child relax. Remind the child that the problem will be addressed by a dentist or the orthodontist, and there is no need to be scared or to worry. Hugging or singing to the child often reduces fear and anxiety. Distraction with toys or a favorite video may help. It is important the child stay calm to help control bleeding, if any, as well as to keep a tilted or loosened tooth in place if that is the problem.
Transport Your Child if Needed
If you are asked to take the child to the orthodontist’s office right away, find out if there are any specific instructions, such as holding a cold compress to the affected area. You may want to ask if the child is allowed to eat or drink, in case a snack is requested before the office visit. If you feel too nervous to safely drive your child, ask a friend or relative to assist. EMS is another option is the injury is substantial or serious.
Follow Up as Directed
After your child has been seen by a medical professional, and especially the orthodontic specialist, ask about follow-up procedures for aftercare. In some cases, the child may need to take an antibiotic. Additional x-rays and tests may be required if surgery will be needed for related jaw injuries.
You may be asked to have the child return in a matter of days or weeks to begin the professional treatment of the injured teeth. Follow the orthodontic directions precisely to ensure the best possible outcome for the child’s dental issue. Including subsequent appointments, medication, and other recommended treatment.
Above all, it is important for the parent or caregiver to remain calm. Dental accidents are common, and most kids do just fine with repair to the affected teeth or areas. Because the problem happens frequently, you might want to line up an orthodontic practice in your area. Then you can consult if the need should arise. It is often a good idea to have kids evaluated for potential orthodontic issues by age ten or twelve anyway. So having a professional available to call if a dental emergency occurs can give you peace of mind.
Most teeth injuries can be effectively addressed with no permanent harm to the child. Having the problem promptly assessed and following through on important treatment and aftercare follow-up steps can help to ensure a positive and swift recovery for childhood dental injuries of this type.
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My child chipped or knocked out a tooth (WHAT TO DO)