Family life

What to do when your child has a dental emergency

Here's how Jennifer Pinarski managed her son's dental emergency.

kids-dental-emergencies

Isaac shows off his new gummy smile. Photo: Jennifer Pinarski

Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children.

Last Saturday started out like any other day in our house when the weather is in a deep freeze: bursting with energy, our two children were tearing around our tiny house. I was working on our meal plan for the week and was pretty much on autopilot as I reminded them to slow down and watch where they were going.

Not even 10 seconds later there was a loud crash followed by my son hysterically screaming, “My mouth! My mouth is bleeding!”

Read more: First-aid kit checklist >

I looked over to where he had fallen. Beside him on the ground were two of his front baby teeth, his poor mouth a purple and red pulpy mess from landing face-first on a solid wood train shed (the cruel irony is that the shed was the only toy on the ground at the time). Both my kids have had nasty bumps and broken bones, but this was by far the messiest and scariest. Thankfully, instinct and my first aid training kicked in. While each dental injury is different and expert medical advice should be sought out, here is how we handled Isaac’s dental emergency:

Stay calm. Mouths are full of blood vessels and, when bumped, count on lots of blood. I won’t lie, though—I was scared.

Control the bleeding. Apply sterile gauze to where the injury occurred, and change as needed. We went through an alarming amount of gauze.

Put the teeth in milk. When I gave my husband those instructions he gave me a strange look, but if you’re able to recover the teeth put them in cold milk to preserve the tooth until they can be examined by a dentist. In some cases, the tooth can be put back in the socket by a dentist and take root again. In our case, since they were baby teeth that would have come out within the next few months anyway, the doctor advised us to leave them out.

Call your dentist. It’s easy to panic and want to go to the ER immediately, but call your dentist first. They specialize in dental emergencies and can take specific X-rays and perform extractions. That said, if it’s a violent knock to the head or your child loses consciousness, they should be seen by a doctor immediately to rule out any other injuries. In our case, our family dentists were not in the office and we made the decision to visit the ER in case an on-call dentist could attend to his injury.

Schedule follow-up dental care appointments. After our visit to the ER, we booked a follow-up appointment as soon as possible with our family dentist so he could take X-rays and do a thorough examination of Isaac’s mouth and advise us on how to care for his injury. He confirmed that no adult teeth were damaged and, despite the amount of bruising on his gums from the fall, his mouth should heal well. What surprised the dental staff the most about Isaac’s knocked-out teeth is that one of them still had the root attached—which isn’t common because when baby teeth fall out the roots naturally dissolve. We have further follow-ups scheduled to ensure that his mouth continues to heal properly.

Get ready for a visit from the Tooth Fairy. For the record, I don’t like the Tooth Fairy and she didn’t visit for the first two baby teeth Isaac lost. I made a generous exception in this case. Even though Isaac wanted to keep his unique “shark tooth” (what he’s nicknamed the incisor with the root attached), I shelled out $10 for the two teeth.

Read more: Tips to help relieve your child’s fear of the doctor >

While I thought Isaac was be self conscious of his gummy smile, he’s bizarrely proud of how his baby teeth came out and I swear I saw him trying to wiggle a few more that he had bumped during the accident. You see, he’s saving up for the Lego Death Star and, with 16 more baby teeth still in his mouth, I’m hoping he’s not getting any crazy ideas on how to earn the extra cash to buy his dream Lego set.

Do you have a dental emergency story to share? Tweet me @jenpinarski.