Worried Your Child May Need Emergency Dental Care? 5 Signs You Should Act Fast

emergency dental care

You know keeping your child’s teeth healthy should be a priority as a parent. You probably spend a lot of time brushing their teeth and teaching them about good oral hygiene. However, at-home care isn’t always enough to keep problems away.

Accidents happen – your child falls off the monkey bars and loses a tooth, or they get hit in the mouth at T-ball, and one breaks. Any number of things could happen, so you need to be able to tell if your child needs emergency dental care or if it can wait for a regular appointment.

If your child is experiencing any of these five signs, you should get them to the pediatric dentist as soon as possible.

  • Loose or Knocked-Out Adult Tooth

When a baby tooth is loose or gets knocked out, it’s no big deal. Just let nature run its course. However, losing or partially losing an adult tooth is a dental emergency. Children typically lose teeth in hard falls, playing sports, or other play-related accidents. Luckily, an accident doesn’t have to spell the end for your child’s adult tooth if you can find it.

Once you locate the tooth, push it back into its socket until it’s flush with the tooth next to it. Then apply pressure to hold it in until you get to the dentist’s office. If the tooth won’t go in properly, you can store it in a cup of cold milk or your child’s saliva – both options will preserve the root of the tooth.


Try to get to the dentist within half an hour for the best chances of success in reattaching and saving the tooth.

  • Swollen or Bleeding Gums

Occasional gum bleeding when you brush or floss is normal and nothing to worry about. However, if your child’s gums bleed every time, or they get swollen, you should take them to the dentist as soon as possible.

Bleeding gums are a sign of gingivitis – a common gum disease. If left untreated, it can turn to periodontitis and your child’s gums will get infected and start to pull away from their teeth. 

Swelling can signify an abscess. When a tooth begins to decay, it can create an infection in the surrounding gum tissue, leading to the swelling you see. Take your child to the dentist right away to take care of the infection before it spreads. They can also attempt to save the tooth with a root canal if you get to them quickly enough.

  • Chipped or Cracked Tooth

Surface-level cracks and minor chips are generally not emergent, and you can schedule a regular appointment with your child’s dentist. Ones that look deep or run the whole length of the tooth should be looked at as soon as possible since they can lead to tooth decay and infection.


If your child gets a chipped tooth, try to locate the missing piece. If you can find it, store it in a damp cloth, milk, or saliva, much like you would for a whole tooth that falls out. Get to your dentist as quickly as possible so they can attempt to reattach it, add a crown, or perform a root canal. Chipped teeth can be incredibly painful and sensitive, so you may want to give them a children’s pain reliever.

Also, if your child is experiencing other symptoms like disorientation, nausea, vomiting, or loss of consciousness, you should get them to a doctor first before seeking dental care.

  • Teeth Turning Grey or Black

Some dental procedures can cause reactions that alter the color of your teeth, but if your child develops one or more teeth that look grey or black, you should seek emergency dental care. The tooth is likely dying.

In those cases, the pediatric dentist will perform a root canal or remove the teeth, depending on the severity. If left untreated, the tooth could become infected and spread the infection to their gums and other teeth.

  • Persistent Tooth Pain

Kids with sensitive teeth might feel pain when drinking or eating something hot or cold, but it should go away quickly. If the feelings persist or intensify, you should take them to the dentist as soon as possible.

Relentless tooth pain is typically a sign of tooth decay, a chipped or cracked tooth, or an infection you haven’t spotted yet. Watch out for signs of fever, which signifies a severe infection. If your child does spike a fever, get them help immediately. Don’t wait it out. These infections can spread to the brain and become life-threatening.

Play It Safe

Even with these signs to look out for, you aren’t trained to identify dental emergencies. If you’re worried about your child’s symptoms but aren’t sure if they need to see the dentist or not, give them a call.

The staff at your dentist’s office will be able to talk you through the problem and assess whether you should come in immediately or not. If needed, they should be able to get you in that day or refer you to a dentist who can. Otherwise, they’ll make you an appointment to come and see them in a little while.


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