If you’ve got kids, it’s very likely you’re eventually going to see some sort of dental trauma! I’d estimate that at least a third of kids have had some sort of dental accident. This can range from minor bruises / cuts to completely breaking a tooth or knocking it out. The key thing is to be prepared and know what to do in case any of these scenarios happen!
The usual scenario is that the kids are playing, you hear a big bump, and your kid comes running to you with blood all over their face! It’s easy to freak out and panic! Try to stay calm, collected, and take a step by step approach to figuring out what happened.
First get a wet rag or paper towel to clean up the blood. Blood in the mouth tends to look worse than elsewhere because it mixes with saliva, goes everywhere, and looks like much more than there actually is. Once you get it cleaned up you can figure out where it is coming from.
Secondly, if someone else is around, send them to get some children’s ibuprofen. You’ll want to have the kid drink this as soon as possible in order to get the painkilling effects going. If no one else is around, figure out what is going on first, then give them some ibuprofen.
Once you’ve figured out where the bleeding is coming from you can figure out what to do next. Here are the most likely scenarios.
They bit into or through their lip
Depending on the extent of the wound, they may or may not need stitches. The general rule is that if the wound stays closed on it’s own (for example if they just bit straight into their lip without any tearing, etc) then it doesn’t need stitches. Any wound that doesn’t stay closed on it’s own or won’t stop bleeding will likely need stitches. If you don’t know, put something in the area for them to apply pressure and take them to your ER or dentist’s office. Pressure is the most important thing needed to stop the bleeding.
They hit their teeth which are bleeding but not loose
In this case, you really don’t need to do anything. Most of the time these teeth will heal on their own. Some significant soreness and sensitivity is pretty normal for about the first week or two afterwards. It’s not terribly unusual for the traumatized tooth to eventually turn gray. The grayness is similar to a bruise. Most of the time these gray teeth are just fine. Occasionally traumatized teeth will become abscessed after some time. Your child may complain of pain with the tooth and you might notice something that looks like a pimple on the gums right above the tooth. You should see your dentist as soon as possible if you notice either of these things.
They hit their teeth which are bleeding and loose
If the teeth are still in their original position and only slightly loose, no treatment is generally necessary. A lot of times these teeth will heal and they will tighten up again. Pretty much everything I discussed in the last section applies to these teeth.
On the other hand if the teeth are displaced out of their original position you’ll want to see a dentist as soon as possible. If it is a baby tooth, these teeth will need to be removed. A permanent tooth should be moved back into it’s original position as soon as possible and a light splint placed on the tooth to stabilize it. If you’re able to push it back into it’s original position at home before seeing the dentist, even better. Many of these permanent teeth will end up needing a root canal.
They hit their teeth and chipped one
This happens pretty rarely with baby teeth as they tend to get knocked out rather than broken due to the soft bone around them. This happens much more often in the permanent teeth, especially the front ones in the first couple of years after they come in. I can’t even count how many kids I’ve seen who’ve chipped their front teeth biking, playing sports, or running into walls. It happens all the time so don’t feel bad if it happens to your child! Small chips can generally be repaired with a filling while very large chips that involve the nerve of the tooth usually end up needing a root canal. If you’re able to find the piece that chipped off, bring this in to the dentist as they can sometimes bond the fragment back in place.
They hit their teeth and knocked one out entirely
If it is baby tooth that has been knocked out, there isn’t a whole lot to do! Baby teeth should never be put back in place if they’ve been knocked out. This can damage the permanent tooth underneath. Put it under their pillow and tell them the tooth fairy gives extra money for teeth that are knocked out.
Permanent teeth on the other hand need immediate attention. If you’re able to put it back in place immediately, this is the absolute best thing you can do. Rinse any debris off of it as gently as possible. Do not scrub or rub it. Push back in place. If you’re not comfortable doing this, put the tooth in a glass of milk and get to your dentist as quickly as possible. Success rates doing this drop rapidly after an hour so you want it treated as soon as possible. If you wait more than a couple of hours, there is no chance of successfully replanting the tooth and you’ll have to start looking at replacement options.