Pediatric Dental Emergency: What To Do

Emergency Dental Care Middletown, NY

Dealing with a pediatric dental emergency can be very stressful if you do not know what to do. Quick and appropriate action is crucial, but there are many different kinds of dental emergencies, each requiring different actions. It is also easy to confuse what is and is not a true emergency.

What constitutes a dental emergency?

Sometimes it can be hard to tell if a dental problem is truly an emergency that needs immediate attention or if it can wait. This decision can be especially stressful on weekends or after hours when the costs and hassle of seeing a dentist or doctor usually go up.

The following problems constitute a dental emergency and should be treated immediately: Severe bleeding, abscesses, damaged or dislodged teeth, swollen gums, jaw injuries and severe pain. If the situation is still unclear, call and ask whether the child should be brought in.

What to do during a pediatric dental emergency

Act fast but do not panic. If a tooth has been chipped or knocked loose, gather the loose piece and rinse it off with water. Do not hold it by the root. If possible, gently place the tooth back in its socket. If this is not feasible, place the tooth in milk and bring it to the dentist. Even if the lost tooth is a non-permanent (baby) tooth, it is still advisable to bring it to along.

For painful problems, ibuprofen is a good choice. Avoid aspirin since it may cause extra bleeding. Have the child rinse their mouth out with warm water and apply a cold compress if necessary. Use some gauze and gentle pressure to stop any bleeding.

It is a good idea to have basic supplies such as gauze, ibuprofen and a cold compress readily available. This can help save precious minutes in an emergency.

Who to call: 911 or the dentist

Usually, a dentist is the correct choice for a pediatric dental emergency. Emergency department doctors at a hospital cannot perform dental procedures nor are dentists typically on staff. For nearly all dental emergencies, the dentist should be the initial doctor called. Making a trip to the hospital first will usually just waste time and money.

However, if a child has jaw injuries, a severe infection or bleeding that does not stop under light pressure, a visit to the E.R. should be the first course of action.

How to avoid a dental emergency

No one wants to experience dental problems, and they can be especially distressing for children. Using the appropriate preventive measures to decrease the odds of a dental emergency can save a lot of pain and hassle later on.

Be sure children wear mouth guards and other suitable protection during sports or other potentially dangerous activities. Regular dental cleanings are another important step in preventing dental trauma in children. Routine cleaning prevents tooth decay and keeps enamel strong. A dentist may also notice potential problems during the cleaning before they become serious.


Pediatric dental emergencies can happen in an instant, and quick action is crucial. Evaluate the situation, preserve any loose teeth and call the dentist immediately. Taking preventive measures can avoid emergencies in the first place.

Request an appointment here: or call Hudson Valley Pediatric Dentistry at (845) 363-4177 for an appointment in our Middletown office.

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Emergency Dental Care in Middletown, NY.

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