What to Do When Your Child Breaks or Chips a Tooth

Did you know approximately 50% of kids will have a tooth injury of some kind at least once in their life? These statistics may sound a little scary, but let’s think about it for a bit: Everything in your little one’s life is new and exciting; this is especially the case for toddlers who have just learned to walk or preschool-aged children who often engage in vigorous play. Most of this movement and play comes punctuated with slips, trips, and falls, and apart from bumps and bruises, your child’s teeth can also be right in the path of injury. Any fall on a hard surface has the potential to result in chipped or broken teeth especially to their small and fragile baby teeth.

Sometimes it’s not even rough play or an accidental fall that causes damage but a chewed piece of ice or a bite into a piece of hard candy. So no matter how baby-proofed your home is, a fractured tooth can happen anywhere and anytime. All you can do as a parent is do your best to keep your child out of harm’s way, and if something does happen, learning what to do after your child fractures a tooth can go a long way in protecting their oral health and alleviating their discomfort.

Step 1: Stay calm.

When your child chips or breaks a tooth, it doesn’t automatically make you a bad parent! These things happen, so take a deep breath and try to stay calm. Remember this is also a new situation for your child, and they’ll likely gauge how to react based on your reaction. So if you seem anxious or scared, your child will as well. It’s vital that you maintain a cool head to help de-escalate the situation and encourage your child to remain calm.

Step 2: Call your dentist.

When your child chips or breaks a tooth, whether it’s a baby tooth or a permanent one, you’ll need to call your dentist right away. Even a small craze (crack) can have an impact on your little one’s oral and overall health. You may not be able to see any damage, and there might not even be any bleeding or pain, but there could be a small opening, invisible to the naked eye, that allows bacteria to enter the inside of the tooth and develop an infection. Let your dentist know how the fracture occurred, what your child’s teeth look like, and secure an emergency dental appointment right away.

Step 3: Save the fragment.

Be sure to collect any fragments you can find of the broken tooth and store them in a glass of milk to keep them moist. In some cases, it may be possible for your dentist to reattach the chipped fragments to the remaining tooth structure using dental glue. If you can’t find any tooth fragments or notice any sort of breathing problem following the injury, take your child to the emergency room immediately. Sometimes children accidentally swallow parts of a broken tooth, which can compromise their breathing.

Step 4: Take care of the symptoms.

Once you establish that your child can breathe normally and you’ve collected fragments of the broken tooth, the next step is to start taking care of the symptoms. First, give your child warm water to rinse out their mouth and help keep the damaged area clean. If the chipped tooth continues to bleed, apply wet gauze to the area and instruct your child to use their teeth to hold the gauze in place long enough for the pressure to stop the bleeding.

Next, hold a cold compress to the outside of the cheek near the chipped tooth area for no more than 15 minutes to keep facial swelling down. Sucking on a popsicle can also work just the same as a cold compress, and it may also help alleviate pain and take the edge off of a not-so-sweet situation. Use your usual form of over-the-counter pain medication to help manage any pain associated with the injury until your dentist can assess the damage and provide better pain relief if necessary.

Step 5: Give the right food and drink.

After a tooth chips or breaks, avoid giving your child hard foods that could further damage the tooth or cause more pain. Instead, offer them soft, non-chocolate treats like yogurt, pudding, ice cream, applesauce, and bananas. You should also provide plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

Treat your chipped or broken tooth near Granite City, Illinois.

Dental treatment for a tooth injury normally depends on the extent of the damage. If your child’s chipped tooth has a jagged edge, your dentist can smooth it out and fill in the part that chipped off. For injuries to a tooth that involve cracks but no nerve damage, a crown restoration may help restore the tooth’s strength and prevent further damage.

If the accident led to tooth nerve damage, a root canal may be necessary before getting a crown. Your dentist may also be able to reimplant a permanent tooth that’s been completely knocked out if your child receives treatment no more than an hour after the accident.

For more advice on the treatment options available for a child’s chipped or broken tooth, schedule an appointment with our Granite City, Illinois, office. Our team can provide a thorough examination and offer your child the best possible care while being highly sensitive to your budget.