Handling a Dental Emergency

A fall while hiking or a lacrosse stick to the mouth can cause acute trauma to the teeth. Dental emergencies occur no matter how much protective gear kids wear. If it happens to your child, it’s helpful to know what steps you should take to get the best outcome.  
Broken Tooth (Crown Fracture)
The part of the tooth visible above the gum line is called the crown. It is the most likely part of the tooth to sustain trauma because it is exposed. The crown can suffer a crack or break from a source outside the mouth, like a baseball, or from biting or chewing on hard items. The best diagnostic tool your dentist has is a low-radiation x-ray image used to assess the severity of the fracture. Your dentist will use an appropriate method to repair the tooth based on position, severity and whether it is primary or permanent. Sealants, fillings, crowns, and root canals are all viable options for recovering proper function.
How you can help:
Gently rinse your child’s mouth with warm water and administer an age-appropriate dose of acetaminophen. Place a cold, moist compress on the affected area. Any change in tooth color such as pink or yellow shadows signals an emergency. Take your child to the dentist or Emergency Room immediately.
Root Fracture
A root fracture occurs when the tooth is damaged below the gum line. Because it is not visible, it must be diagnosed by x-ray imaging in your dentist’s office. Depending on the severity, position, and whether it is a primary or permanent tooth, your dentist will make a recommendation for treatment. Common outcomes would be to watch and wait, treat it with a root canal and crown, or extraction.
How you can help:
Administer an age-appropriate dose of acetaminophen. Place a cold, moist compress directly to the affected area. Call your dentist for instructions and next steps.
Dental Concussion
A hard knock to a tooth from an object that doesn’t cause movement or dislocation is commonly known as a concussed tooth. It can cause a light shadow of discoloration in primary teeth but isn’t of concern unless the tooth turns dark or black. Emergency treatment isn’t warranted for the light shadow, but if the tooth darkens rapidly or completely, see your emergency dentist in West Indianapolis immediately.  
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