What is Considered a Dental Emergency?

Team Dental Emergency

After a fall or an accident, many parents find themselves asking: is my child experiencing a dental emergency or is this something that can wait? The best way to get an answer is to call our office so we can determine if you need to come in. Our dentist will talk with you to understand the injury and decide the best course of action for your child’s dental health.

While our emergency line is always open, below are some situations that parents may face.

Your Child Is Experiencing Tooth Pain

This can be a tough call for parents—some kids think a paper cut is the end of the world, while others will dislocate a shoulder and not say anything about it for hours! Pain is subjective, and what one child finds excruciating may be no big deal to another. 

What are the signs that your child’s toothache may require an urgent dental visit? If a toothache persists after giving your child over-the-counter pain relievers, or the toothache prevents your child from eating, sleeping, or participating in normal daily activities then please call us as this tooth does need attention. 

Pain can mean multiple things from a cavity that causes a dull toothache, which should be addressed soon but does not require immediate attention, to a more severe situation when there is an infection that may require a root canal or extraction.  

While sometimes we will recommend you be seen as soon as possible, often toothaches can best be addressed during normal business hours with our full team.

Your Child Has Uncontrolled Bleeding

After an injury it is not uncommon for your child to have what seems like heavy bleeding.  We know this can be alarming for parents and children.  The first thing you should do is apply pressure to the wound---bleeding is often coming from the band of tissue on the inside of the upper lip or from the gumline of the teeth.  Like all wounds, the bleeding should stop in a few minutes.  If the bleeding is heavy or accompanied by facial or head injuries, take your child to the emergency room for treatment.  Also, call our office if you have questions.

Your Child’s Tooth May Require Emergency Dental Care

  • Your child’s permanent tooth has been knocked out completely (avulsed).  If this happens then place the tooth back in the socket and call us. If you are unable to place it in the socket then place it in milk and call us.

  • Your child’s tooth is displaced: this often does not require immediate attention, but call us.

  • Your child has a tooth abscess: this often does not require immediate attention, but call us.

  • Your child’s tooth is broken: this sometimes requires immediate attention, more so for an adult tooth and not a baby tooth.

For a permanent tooth, an emergency root canal is the most common treatment for each of these situations, but sometimes damage is so severe that extraction is necessary. When a primary tooth is badly damaged, we may be able to save it with a dental crown or by performing a baby root canal; if extraction is needed, we will determine whether a space maintainer will be needed to keep other teeth from drifting into the newly opened space.

Learn More About Pediatric Dental Emergencies

If you’re wondering if your child’s situation requires emergency dentistry, contact us today at 202-545-7200 to speak with one of our team members.