Chipping a tooth is a relatively common injury for babies, toddlers, and very young children. Getting those later baby teeth happens to coincide with your little one taking first steps and learning to do many other basic activities, so falls, tumbles, and accidents are to be expected. If you’re the parent of a toddler, you may wonder how a chipped tooth doesn’t happen more often!
Although a chipped tooth for a toddler only means damage to non-permanent baby teeth, it is still important to take any necessary first aid and treatment steps to relieve pain and ensure there is not any further damage to the tooth or surrounding areas. The following guide can help you know what to do, and when to contact a dentist, so you can take the best steps for your child.
Signs and Symptoms of a Chipped Tooth
A chipped tooth can happen at any time. In some cases, it may be immediately obvious and visible that your child chipped a tooth. In other situations, you may not notice it until much later. Likewise, you may be able to recover the missing tooth, or it may be easily lost.
In addition to the visible crack or chip in your toddler’s tooth, other key symptoms to watch for or that could potentially identify a chipped tooth include:
- Bleeding from the teeth or gums
- Swelling and inflammation in the mouth
- Increased sensitivity when eating or drinking due to nerve exposure
- Discoloration of the tooth
- Fever, difficulty sleeping, continued bleeding, which can be signs of an abscess and require immediate care
It’s important to know the steps to take after your toddler chips a tooth to address symptoms and relieve pain.
Steps to Take after a Chipped Tooth
While you should avoid trying to fix or repair the tooth yourself, you can still provide basic care and pain relief for your toddler. Here are some commonly recommended steps:
- Rinse your toddler’s mouth with warm water to clean the area, repeat as needed
- Use gentle pressure around the mouth to stop the bleeding
- Apply cold compression, such as a toddler-friendly ice pack, to numb the area temporarily and limit swelling, repeat as needed
- If you can find the missing chip to the tooth, wrap it in wet gauze and bring it to the dentist
- To help with any pain, use over-the-counter pain medicine or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as directed
- If there is a small jagged edge or chip, use dental wax to smooth the area and limit risk of cutting your toddler’s mouth or tongue, avoid 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 as soon as possible
Generally, all chips require dental care to both treat the injury and reduce pain. Even if your toddler’s chip seems minor, you still need to see a dentist to make sure the damage will not get worse, or get infected, and cause problems down the road.
When to See a Pediatric Dentist
Even with smaller chips, you and your toddler will likely need to take a trip to the dentist as soon as you can. If there are any signs of an emergency, such as continuous bleeding, severe pain, or a fever, seek immediate medical or dental attention. Otherwise, call your pediatric dentist, explain the situation and they will advise you on scheduling.
Bring any part of your toddler’s tooth you were able to recover for the dentist to examine. He or she will perform an examination including questions about the injury, symptoms, and how long ago the chip happened. If there is a crack that may possibly have gone to the pulp or root, an X-ray may be needed.
Understanding Potential Treatments for a Chipped Tooth
After a thorough examination, your dentist can discuss potential treatment options for your little one. These may include cosmetic measures for dealing with the chip. For a toddler with a chipped tooth, potential early dental treatments include:
- Polishing: Some minor chips may only need polishing the surface of the tooth or smoothing a jagged edge.
- Dental bonding: To fill in a gap or contour, dentists use methods to condition and shape the tooth. If it is possible to reattach part of the tooth, dental bonding procedures may be able to help.
- Dental fillings: If the chip also causes a crack that reaches down to the inner tooth, a filling may be needed.
In more serious cases, the tooth may be damaged to the extent that it needs to be fully removed to prevent damage to the mouth or infection. Untreated and serious chipped teeth can also become infected, requiring treatments such as root canals.
If your toddler has chipped a tooth, the compassionate AC Pediatric Dentistry team is here to help. We will do everything to ensure that you and your toddler have as comfortable and calm of a time as possible.
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!