Dental Emergencies

Dental trauma in children is extremely common.  Approximately 50% of children will experience trauma to the teeth and mouth.

There are two peak risk periods for dental trauma - the first between ages 1-3, when environmental exploration begins, and the second being the preadolescent/adolescent period, when children become active in sports.

Detailed below are some of the most common childhood dental emergencies, in addition to helpful advice on how to deal with them.


Some common causes of toothache include: tooth fractures, decay, infection, trauma, and wisdom teeth eruption (adolescence).  Impacted food can also cause discomfort in young children.


  1. Cleanse around the sore tooth thoroughly.
  2. Rinse vigorously or use floss to dislodge trapped food or debris.
  3. If there is swelling, apply a cold compress.
  4. Take Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen for pain.
  5. Contact your pediatric dentist to seek advice.


Dental avulsion (knocked-out tooth)

     Permanent Tooth


     1. Handle the tooth by the crown, not the root.

     2. Rinse the tooth gently with saline.  Keep the tooth moist.  If saline is not available, place the tooth in cold milk or the child's own saliva.

     3. For older children, insert the tooth into its original socket using gentle pressure.

     4. Contact your pediatric dentist immediately.  Time is of the essence for a successful reimplantation.

         Baby Teeth:  Do not re-insert baby teeth. This may damage the developing permanent tooth.


    Displaced tooth (tooth still in socket but moved out of position)


    1. Rinse the child’s mouth with cold water.
    2. Place ice packs around affected areas to reduce swelling.
    3. Offer Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen for pain relief.
    4. Contact your pediatric dentist.


    Broken Tooth

    For mild chipping of the teeth (up to 2mm), if there is no bleeding from the tooth itself and your child is not in pain, your child can generally be seen within a few days to have the tooth evaluated.  If the tooth is loose, displaced, or has broken more than 2 mm, or if you note bleeding from the tooth, and or your child is in pain, contact your pediatric dentist.


    1. Rinse the child’s mouth with warm water.
    2. Place a cold, moist compress on the affected area.
    3. Locate and save broken tooth fragments.
    4. If the tooth is loose, do not allow your child to chew or put any forces on the broken tooth.


    Injured cheek, lip or tongue

    If the child’s cheek, lip or tongue is bleeding due to an accidental cut or bite, apply firm direct pressure to the area using a clean cloth or gauze.  To reduce swelling, apply ice to the affected areas.  If the bleeding does not stop within 15 minutes or if it becomes uncontrollable, proceed to the Emergency Room or call a medical professional immediately.


    Fractured jaw

    If a broken or fractured jaw is suspected, proceed immediately to the Emergency Room.  In the meantime, encourage the child not to move the jaw.  In the case of a very young child, gently tie a scarf lengthways around the head and jaw to prevent movement.


    Head injury/head trauma

    If the child has received trauma to the head, proceed immediately to the Emergency Room.  Even if consciousness has not been lost, it is important for pediatric doctors to rule out delayed concussion and internal bleeding.

    If you have questions about dental emergencies, please ask your pediatric dentist.


    Our Irvine, CA Pediatric Dentists and Orthodontists at Irvine Children's Dentistry are dental professionals dedicated to excellence in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics (braces) for children and teens. Available treatments include dental cleanings, comprehensive exams, digital x-rays, sealants, fluoride treatments, white fillings, crowns, root canal treatments, extractions, emergency care, laser dentistry, gum surgery, cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics, Invisalign, braces and more.

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