Despite our best efforts to make a safe environment and encourage careful behavior in our children, accidents happen. Along with bumps, bruises, scrapes, and even broken bones, chipped or broken teeth are an all-too-common accident for parents and children alike to encounter. But, it’s still a rare enough occurrence where a chipped or broken tooth can be a stressful event that leaves you unsure how to respond.
Our teeth are made to be strong, but any number of accidents and incidents can cause either small chips or larger breaks. The extent of the damage and severity of the pain can depend on many factors, including the type of injury and the state of the teeth. Still growing baby teeth can be particularly prone to chips and breaks, especially for younger people learning the basics of walking, running, and jumping.
Whether it’s a minor chip or enough of a break to constitute a medical emergency, we’re providing the following guide to help. By knowing how to respond and taking prompt care steps, you can get the treatment your child needs for a continually happy and healthy smile.
What to Do if Your Child Chips or Breaks a Tooth
Even with relatively minor chips, care should still involve eventual treatment by a dentist. More serious cases may require immediate intervention from a dentist or even emergency medical professionals.
Although home fixes for chipped and broken teeth should always be avoided, first aid and immediate care are still important. If your child has chipped or broken his or her tooth, the following steps are recommended:
- Use a warm water rinse to clean the mouth right away
- Apply gentle pressure on the area to stop any bleeding
- Use a cold compress to reduce swelling and numb the area temporarily
- Try to locate the broken portion of the tooth. If possible, wrap it in wet gauze and bring it with you to the dentist
- Continue using warm water rinses and cold compression to relieve pain and swelling
- Administer over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medication as directed
- Another common at-home remedy for relieving pain and inflammation is clove oil
- Applying dental wax to a small jagged edge or chip can reduce the risk of cutting your mouth or tongue, but isn’t recommended for larger chips or breaks
- Avoid chewing or putting any pressure on that side of the mouth to avoid pain or potentially chipping off more of the tooth
- Contact your dentist immediately to make an appointment
Get to the dentist as soon as possible. All but the absolute smallest cracks or chips will require dental care to both treat the injury and reduce pain, while also addressing any cosmetic issues. This is just as true for baby teeth as it is for adult teeth. Even if the chip or crack seems minor, it should still be checked out by a dentist to ensure the damage will not worsen and cause problems down the road.
How Dentists Treat Chipped and Broken Teeth
When you go to the dentist, bring any part of the tooth you were able to recover. The dentist can ask questions about the injury, severity of symptoms, and how long ago the chip occurred while also reviewing past dental records and treatments. If there was a crack that may have extended into the pulp or root of the tooth, diagnostic imagery such as an X-ray may be necessary.
From there, your child’s dentist can discuss potential treatment options, including cosmetic procedures, for dealing with the chip or crack in the tooth. For children with damaged teeth, early dental treatments can include:
- Polishing and smoothing: The most minor chips or cracks may only require polishing the surface of the tooth or smoothing a jagged edge.
- Dental bonding: If there is a need to fill in a gap or contour, a dentist can use a number of specific methods to condition and shape the tooth. If it is possible to reattach part of the tooth, dental bonding procedures may be able to accomplish this as well.
- Dental fillings: If the crack or breakage extends down into the inner tooth, including the dentin, pulp, or root, a dental filling may be required.
- Root canal: In more severe cases, dentists may also need to address damaged nerve roots or blood vessels in the pulp or root of the tooth, requiring a root canal. Fortunately, modern root canal techniques have made these procedures more routine and less painful for patients.
- Tooth extraction: Particularly with primary teeth, the damage may be extensive enough that the best course of action is removing the whole tooth. For children with baby teeth, this can help ensure that the adult teeth come in healthy and without complications.
No matter how extensive or minor the treatment, the caring and dedicated team at AC Pediatric Dentistry can help ensure that you and your child have as calm and comfortable of an experience as possible. We’re committed to personalized treatment that will help achieve your desired outcome and promote long-term oral health.
Keep Your Family’s Teeth Healthy with the Help of AC Pediatric Dentistry
Going to the dentist can be scary — we get it. But it should be fun! Whether it’s care for baby teeth, big kid teeth, oral surgery, or orthodontics, our team of specialized pediatric dentists make the experience memorable while teaching you how to encourage healthy habits and good hygiene for lifelong smiles. Call us today or request an appointment online. We can’t wait to meet you!