Dental Emergencies

Dental Emergencies in Children: What to Do When Faced with Common Childhood Dental Injuries


Ensuring the dental well-being of our young ones is more than just routine check-ups and morning brushes. It’s about preparing for the unpredictable—like dental emergencies. A tumble at the playground or an unexpected hit during football can lead to a dental injury. Knowing how to act immediately can often make the difference between a temporary scare and long-term dental damage.

Common Causes of Dental Injuries in Children

From Melbourne parks to Sydney backyards, childhood is often synonymous with the occasional scrape or bruise. Dental injuries, while distressing, are a part of this growing-up journey.

Sports Accidents: With footy, cricket, and netball being popular among Aussie kids, it’s not uncommon for a stray ball or elbow to result in a dental injury.

Playground Falls: Slips from monkey bars or swings at the local park can lead to cracked or chipped teeth.

Bicycle Accidents: Riding bikes is an Australian childhood rite of passage. However, the occasional tumble can sometimes lead to more than just grazed knees.

Chewing Hard Foods: A love for toffees or hard lollies can sometimes be the culprit behind a chipped tooth.

Fights or Rough Play: It’s natural for kids to have disagreements or play roughly, but it can sometimes lead to unintended dental consequences.

Recognising the Type of Dental Injury

Understanding the nature of a dental injury is paramount for providing immediate care.

Tooth Avulsion: This is when a tooth is entirely knocked out of its socket. It’s vital to act swiftly, especially if there’s any hope of saving the tooth.

Tooth Luxation: This refers to a tooth that’s been dislodged either inward, outward, or sideways but hasn’t completely come out.

Tooth Fracture: Just as it sounds, this is a broken or chipped tooth. Depending on the severity, the fragments can range from minute chips to significant portions of the tooth.

Soft Tissue Injuries: Beyond just the teeth, a child might experience cuts or bruises on their lips, tongue, or cheeks due to a blow or fall.

Immediate First-Aid Measures for Dental Emergencies

When faced with a dental emergency, timely first-aid measures can make all the difference.

Tooth Avulsion:

• Stay calm and find the tooth: Panicking won’t help, and the tooth needs to be located swiftly.
• Handle by the Crown: Always handle the knocked-out tooth by the crown (the top part) and avoid touching the root.
• Rinse Gently: If the tooth is dirty, use milk or saline to rinse it. Refrain from scrubbing or using tap water, as it can damage the cells crucial for reattachment.
• Re-insertion: If possible and safe, try placing the tooth back in its socket, ensuring it’s facing the right way. If this isn’t feasible, especially with younger children who might swallow it, proceed to the next step.
• Keep the tooth moist: Store the tooth in a glass of milk. The Australian Dental Association suggests milk because it helps retain the correct balance of fluid in the root. If milk isn’t available, ask the child to keep the tooth in their mouth, between the cheek and gum.

Tooth Luxation:

Avoid Forcing the Tooth: It might be tempting to push the tooth back, but it’s best to leave it as is.
Seek Dental Assistance: While waiting, prevent the child from biting down to avoid further displacement. It’s crucial to see a dentist as soon as possible.

Tooth Fracture:

• Rinse the Mouth: Use warm water to gently rinse the child’s mouth.
• Cold Compress: Put on a cold compress to the affected area to decrease swelling.
• Save the Fragments: If you can find any broken tooth pieces, store them in milk and bring them to the dentist.

Soft Tissue Injuries:

• Clean the area: Use warm water to rinse the mouth gently.
• Cold compression: This will help reduce swelling and provide some relief.
• Gauze for Bleeding: If there’s bleeding, a piece of gauze or even a clean cloth can be pressed against the wound until it stops.

Preventative Measures: Avoiding Dental Injuries

Children’s laughter and energetic antics are a delightful part of growing up in Australia. Nonetheless, as we witness, sometimes these moments can lead to dental emergencies. The ultimate solution to reduce the risk of these injuries is taking preventive measures.

Use of Mouth Guards in Sports: The Australian Dental Association (ADA) strongly promotes the use of mouthguards in contact sports like footy, rugby, and hockey. These custom-fitted devices provide a cushion, reducing the risk of tooth injuries and even concussions.

Child-Proofing the Home: Ensuring that sharp corners are padded and removing tripping hazards can be a simple yet effective way to prevent injuries, especially in toddlers who are still finding their feet.

Child-Proofing the Home: Ensuring that sharp corners are padded and removing tripping hazards can be a simple yet effective way to prevent injuries, especially in toddlers who are still finding their feet.

Educating Children About the Risks: Talk to your children about the dangers of certain activities. Knowledge can lead to a mindful approach during play, reducing the risk of dental injuries.

The Importance of Timely Dental Care

Acting promptly during a dental emergency is critical, but the period that follows is just as crucial.

Role of a Paediatric Dentist: A paediatric dentist specialises in addressing the unique dental needs of children. From managing injuries to addressing dental anxieties post-injury, their role is integral to ensuring your child’s oral health is on the right track.

Potential Long-Term Implications of Untreated Dental Injuries: Ignoring a dental injury can lead to complications like infections, misalignment, and even long-term dental health issues. Australian laws mandate that schools and sporting clubs inform guardians promptly about any injuries to ensure that immediate care is sought.

Addressing Dental Anxiety in Children Post-Injury: Dental emergencies can be traumatising. It’s not uncommon for children to develop a fear of the dentist after such an incident. Counselling and choosing a friendly dental environment can ease these anxieties.


Every parent or guardian wishes to shield their child from harm. But life, with its unpredictable nature, sometimes has other plans. While we can’t prevent every mishap, being prepared and well-informed can make a significant difference during a dental emergency. Remember, the actions in the immediate aftermath, combined with timely professional care, often dictate the path to recovery.

For top-notch dental care that understands the intricacies of childhood dental emergencies and more, consider Dental on Nexus. Their team is well-equipped to handle such situations with the utmost care and professionalism.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Can a knocked-out baby tooth be replanted?

A: Unlike permanent teeth, it’s generally not recommended to replant avulsed baby teeth, as it can harm the developing permanent tooth underneath.

Q2: How often should my child visit a dentist?

A: The ADA recommends children start dental visits by their first birthday, followed by check-ups every six months or as advised by the dentist.

Q3: My child chipped a tooth but felt no pain. Should we still see a dentist?

A: Yes, it’s essential to consult with a dentist, even if there’s no pain. There might be underlying damage, or the tooth may be vulnerable to decay.

Q4: What’s the best way to clean an injured mouth or tooth?

A: Rinse gently with warm saline water. Avoid using antiseptics or other medications unless recommended by a dentist.

Q5: How can I prepare for potential dental emergencies?

A: Regular dental check-ups, having an emergency dental kit, and knowing the contact information of a reliable dentist, like Dental on Nexus, can make you well-prepared for unforeseen dental mishaps.

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