We all know there are common-sense things we and our children can do to prevent them from having dental emergencies.

• They can wear helmets and mouth guards when playing sports.
• They can avoid sticky foods when wearing braces.
• They can avoid chewing ice, popcorn kernels, and hard candy, all of which could crack a tooth.
• They can avoid smoking.
• They can avoid piercing any part of their mouths and the surrounding area. (Know that oral piercings and tongue splitting are invitations to bacteria colonies to set up shop.)
• They can use scissors—not their teeth—to cut things.
• And, of course, they can take good care of their teeth, which means flossing daily, avoiding sugary and starchy snacks, and brushing twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste.

But accidents inevitably happen. With this guide, when one does, you’ll be prepared. [All information in this article comes courtesy of the American Dental Association (ADA). For more information, visit mouthhealthy.org.]

Most dentists reserve time in their schedules for emergencies.

Emergency: Knocked-out Tooth
Response: Keep the tooth moist at all times. If you can, try to replace it in its socket without touching the root. If you can’t do that, have your child place it between his cheek and gums, or in milk. Get to your dentist’s office immediately. Most dentists reserve time in their daily schedules for such emergencies. Call ahead and provide as much detail as you can about what happened. If the accident occurs when your dentist’s office is closed, go to your local emergency room.

Emergency: Cracked tooth
Response: Immediately have your child rinse his mouth with warm water to clean the area. Put cold compresses on his face to minimize swelling. See your dentist as soon as possible.

Emergency: Toothache
Response: Have your child rinse her mouth with warm water to clean it out. Gently remove any food caught between teeth with dental floss. Don’t put aspirin on her tooth or gums; it may burn the gum tissue. If the pain persists, call your dentist.

Emergency: Broken Jaw
Response: Immediately apply cold compresses to control swelling. Get to
your dentist or hospital emergency room without delay.

Emergency: Foreign Object
Response: If something gets stuck in your child’s mouth that shouldn’t be there, gently try to remove the foreign object with floss. Never use a sharp or pointed instrument. See your dentist or go to the emergency room as soon as possible.

Carol Lippert Gray is the editor of Raising Teens.


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