It might sound obvious, but preparation is key to dealing with a dental emergency. It’s always a good idea to have your local practice’s contact details to hand, and to make a note of your dentist’s arrangements for out-of-hours emergency care too.
Step 1 - Review
Is there a missing, chipped or broken tooth? The first thing you’ll need to do is assess the situation.
If an accident has happened with enough force to damage a tooth, your child could have other injuries. Check them over thoroughly. If you notice anything you’re unsure of, or suspect a head injury, speak to your GP, call 111 or visit your nearest A&E to seek professional medical advice.
Step 2 - Reassure
This will be a scary time for your little one. If you can appear calm and confident (even if you aren’t) it will help your child feel much safer.
Bringing them their favourite blanket, teddy or toy is a good way to bring them some comfort while you sort everything else.
Step 3 - Relieve
Administering your child’s preferred form of over-the-counter pain relief will help to reduce the effect of any throbbing pain or toothache. Always remember to follow the recommended dosage from the manufacturer’s instructions.
A cold compress (no ice) is a good way to reduce any swelling. If their mouth is bleeding, ask them to bite down on a clean handkerchief or cloth.
Step 4 - Recover
Finding a missing tooth (or parts of a tooth) is crucial. If you can’t, it could indicate your child has swallowed or inhaled it, meaning they’ll need medical attention as soon as possible.
If part of a tooth is missing, try your best to find it and preserve the missing part of the tooth in some milk and bring it with you to the dentist. Choose a container with a lid, as it’ll make travelling to your practice much easier.
If a whole permanent tooth has fallen out, be careful to pick it up without touching the sensitive nerve. If your child is a little older, and willing, putting the tooth back in the socket will give it the best chance of surviving. Alternatively, you can preserve it in milk or saliva and bring it with you to the practice.
Step 5 - Call your local practice
Call your local practice and explain what’s happened. They’ll do their best to arrange an emergency appointment for you as soon as they can. They may also be able to give you advice for looking after your little one until your appointment.