Breaking a tooth is a scary time for anyone, especially children. But it’s up to you to remain calm and to help them through the situation. This is how best to handle your child’s tooth injury.
First, it’s important to note there’s a difference between a broken tooth and a chipped one. A chip is usually surface-level damage to the tooth where it’s missing a small piece. Chips can be big but don’t usually go below the enamel. A child’s broken tooth, however, is more like a crack that can damage the entire tooth down to the root. A broken tooth is far more serious and will require medical attention.
Steps to Handle a Cracked Tooth
1. Call Your Pediatric Dentist
The first and most important step is to call your pediatric dentist. Inform them about what happened and the current state of the tooth. They’ll likely ask a few questions to ascertain how the tooth got broken and how much of an emergency it is.
Once they have the necessary information, they’ll make an appointment for you. If it is an emergency, they may be able to get you and your child in that day, or they may recommend you go to the hospital instead. If they’re not in pain, your child’s broken tooth can usually wait until their first available appointment, which you should absolutely still take.
2. Use A Salt Water Rinse
Your child’s tooth injury may have caused damage down to the root. This will hurt and run the risk of infection. A warm salt water rinse helps alleviate both these symptoms. The warmth of the water coupled with the antibacterial properties of the salt reduces pain and keeps the risk of infection to a minimum.
Heat water to just above lukewarm in the microwave or with a kettle. Make sure it isn’t too hot for your child’s mouth. Mix a generous sprinkle of salt into the water. Have your child swish it gently around their broken tooth and throughout their mouth. After about 30 seconds to a minute, have them spit it out.
They can use this treatment as many times as they’d like with no side effects. It’s best for them not to swallow any salt water.
3. Cover the Tooth
Using dental wax you find at the store or sugar-free gum, place a temporary cover over your child’s tooth injury. This will help protect the tooth until you can visit your dentist. Make sure the tooth is completely dry before applying the cover or it will come back off quickly.
Please note if your child’s broken tooth has an exposed root, you shouldn’t use this method as the cover could harm the root or cause extra damage when removed.
4. Administer Over-the-Counter Medication
If your child’s pain is especially bad, you may need to administer over-the-counter pain medication. Make sure to double-check the appropriate dose before giving it to them. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen helps reduce both pain and swelling. This helps make your child’s time before their appointment more tolerable.
5. At Your Appointment
Once you’ve utilized at-home care, it’s time for your appointment. Your dentist will perform a thorough examination of your child’s broken tooth.
They will then recommend a course of treatment. The two most common are bonding for more minor cracks or a crown for more serious ones. After your dentist has thoroughly cleaned your child’s tooth injury, they will apply the bonding or crown. They may use sedation dentistry if needed for pain or particularly anxious children.
Bonding is a procedure where a tooth-colored resin is bonded to the teeth with a particular type of light. It’s similar to a filling. A crown is a separate cover or cap that is placed over your child’s broken tooth to completely cover the crack. Your dentist will ascertain which repair is necessary and walk you through the steps.
Contact Children’s Dentistry of Las Vegas
We’re dedicated to providing your child with a safe, friendly dental atmosphere so they feel as comfortable as possible. We’re also fluent in Spanish, so don’t hesitate to reach out for your child today.