Toothache: Clean the area of the affected tooth. Rinse the mouth thoroughly with warm water or use dental floss to dislodge any food that may be impacted. If the pain persists, contact your child’s dentist. Do not place aspirin or heat on the gums or on the aching tooth. If the face is swollen, apply cold compresses and contact your dentist immediately.
Cut or Bitten Tongue, Lip or Cheek: Apply ice to injured areas to help control swelling. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a gauze or cloth. If bleeding cannot be controlled by simple pressure, call a doctor or visit the hospital emergency room.
Knocked Out Permanent Tooth: If possible, find the tooth. Handle it by the crown only, not by the root. DO NOT clean with soap, scrub or handle the tooth unnecessarily. Inspect the tooth for fractures. If it is sound, try to reinsert it in the socket. Have the patient hold the tooth in place by biting on a gauze. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, transport the tooth in a save-a-tooth cup or in a cup containing milk. If the patient is old enough, the tooth may also be carried in the patient’s mouth (beside the cheek). The patient must see a dentist IMMEDIATELY! Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth.
Knocked Out Baby Tooth: Contact your pediatric dentist during business hours. This is not usually an emergency, and in most cases, no treatment is necessary.
Chipped or Fractured Permanent Tooth: Contact your pediatric dentist immediately. Quick action can save the tooth, prevent infection and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling.
Chipped or Fractured Baby Tooth: Contact your pediatric dentist during business hours. This is not usually an emergency, and in most cases, no treatment is necessary.
Severe Blow to the Head: Take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately.
Possible Broken or Fractured Jaw: Keep the jaw from moving and take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Dental Radiographs (X-Rays)
Radiographs (X-Rays) are a vital and necessary part of your child’s dental diagnostic process. Without them, certain dental conditions can and will be missed.
Radiographs detect much more than cavities. For example, radiographs may be needed to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment. Radiographs allow dentists to diagnose and treat health conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends radiographs and examinations every six months for children with a high risk of tooth decay. On average, most pediatric dentists request radiographs approximately once a year. Approximately every 3 years, it is a good idea to obtain a complete set of radiographs, either a panoramic and bitewings or periapicals and bitewings.
Pediatric dentists are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of their patients to radiation. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. The risk is negligible. In fact, the dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem. Lead body aprons and shields will protect your child. Today’s equipment filters out unnecessary x-rays and restricts the x-ray beam to the area of interest. Digital films and proper shielding assure that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.
What’s the Best Toothpaste for my Child?
Tooth brushing is one of the most important tasks for good oral health. When looking for a toothpaste for your child, make sure to pick one that is recommended by the American Dental Association as shown on the box and tube. These toothpastes have undergone rigorous testing to insure they are safe to use.
If they are age 3 and over, they should use a pea sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. If they are younger than 3, a grain of rice sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste should be used. Contrary to popular belief, after spitting, you should not rinse with water!
If too much fluoride is ingested, a condition known as fluorosis can occur. This is only a concern if a very large amount of toothpaste, such as an entire tube, is consumed in a single sitting such. If this occurs, give your child a glass of milk and go to the nearest emergency room.
Does Your Child Grind His Teeth At Night? (Bruxism)
Parents are often concerned about the nocturnal grinding of teeth (bruxism). Often, the first indication is the noise created by the child grinding their teeth during sleep or the parent may notice wear (teeth getting shorter) to the dentition. One theory as to the cause involves a psychological component. Stress due to a new environment, divorce, changes at school et cetera can influence a child to grind their teeth. Another theory relates to pressure in the inner ear at night. If there are pressure changes (like in an airplane during take-off and landing, when people are chewing gum et cetera to equalize pressure) the child will grind by moving his jaw to relieve this pressure.
The majority of cases of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment. The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The grinding decreases between the ages 6-9 and children tend to stop grinding between ages 9-12. If you suspect bruxism, discuss this with your pediatrician or pediatric dentist.
Sucking is a natural reflex and infants and young children may use thumbs, fingers, pacifiers and other objects on which to suck. It may make them feel secure and happy, or provide a sense of security at difficult periods. Since thumb sucking is relaxing, it may induce sleep.
Thumb sucking that persists beyond the age of three can cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and tooth alignment. How intensely a child sucks on fingers or thumbs will determine whether or not dental problems may result. Children who rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs.
Children should cease thumb sucking by age three to avoid permanent dental effects. Usually, children stop between the ages of two and four. Peer pressure causes many school-aged children to stop.
Pacifiers are no substitute for thumb sucking. They can affect the teeth essentially the same way as sucking fingers and thumbs. However, use of the pacifier can be controlled and modified more easily than the thumb or finger habit. If you have concerns about thumb sucking or use of a pacifier, consult your pediatric dentist.
A few suggestions to help your child get through thumb sucking:
Instead of scolding children for thumb sucking, praise them when they are not doing it (positive reinforcement).
Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure. Focus on correcting the cause of anxiety, instead of the thumb sucking.
Reward children when they refrain from sucking during difficult periods, such as when being separated from their parents.
School-aged children will often respond well to a reward chart.
Your pediatric dentist can encourage children to stop sucking and explain what could happen if they continue.
If these approaches don’t work, remind the children of their habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock on the hand at night. Your pediatric dentist may recommend the use of a mouth appliance.