What To Do When Your Child Chips a Tooth…and Other Dental Emergencies

children's chipped tooth


Seeing your child with a broken tooth or bleeding mouth can be a scary ordeal, but knowing the basics of dental first aid will help you stay calm and minimize dental damage. Here’s what to do in common pediatric dental emergencies.




  1. Toothache:

Clean around the sore tooth thoroughly. Rinse vigorously with warm salt water to dislodge trapped food or debris. DO NOT place aspirin on the gum or on the aching tooth. If you notice swelling, apply a cold compress. You may give an age appropriate dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain and see your dentist as soon as possible.


  1. Cut Tongue, Lip or Cheek:

Apply ice to the bruised area. If you see bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a clean gauze or cloth. If bleeding hasn’t stopped after 15 minutes or gentle pressure does not control it, call your pediatric dentist or take the child to a hospital emergency room..


  1. Tooth Knocked Out:

TIME IS CRITICAL. Find the tooth if possible. Be sure to handle the tooth by the top (crown) of the tooth, not the roots. You may clean debris off of the tooth, but try not to handle the tooth too much. If you can, replace the tooth in its socket and have the child bite on a clean gauze or cloth to hold it in place. If you cannot replace the tooth in its socket, put it in a container of milk or water and see a dentist IMMEDIATELY.


  1. Broken Tooth:

Rinse the area with warm water. Place cold compresses to the face in the area of injury. If possible, locate and save any tooth fragments. See a dentist IMMEDIATELY..


  1. Broken Braces or Wires:

If you can easily remove the appliance, take it out. If you cannot remove it, cover any sharp or protruding areas with cotton balls, gauze, or chewing gum. If the wire is stuck in the child’s gum, cheek or tongue, DO NOT attempt to remove it. See a dentist IMMEDIATELY. If the broken appliance or brace does not bother the child, emergency attention is usually unnecessary. Speak with your orthodontist or dentist to determine whether the child should be seen right away or not.


In some instances, the need for emergency care can be minimized with a little prevention, such as wearing protective gear for sports activities or making safety the standard at swimming pools or playgrounds (click here for information on summer dental safety). When accidents do happen, knowing exactly what to do will help you remain calm and limit potential trauma. If you’re unsure of what to do or if a situation is an emergency, call your dentist; he or she can tell you if it is an emergency, if you need an appointment immediately, and how to treat the injury.


At The Children’s Dental Health Center, our skilled pediatric team is prepared to offer immediate treatment for your child’s dental emergency. We provide age-appropriate anesthesia and offer a variety of sedation options to ensure your child’s comfort during treatment. Our Board Certified Anesthesiologist Dr. Nadine Keegan is one of the few dual board-certified physicians, earning her Diplomate in both Anesthesia and Pediatrics. The Children’s Dental Health Center has the specialized equipment, facility and staff to minimize your child’s trauma and address their needs in a warm and caring environment. 

Questions or concerns? Contact us online or call our office @ 201.871.3556

For more information on pediatric sedation, click here.

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