What happens when a child breaks a tooth?
When a child breaks a tooth, your first action should involve calming them down. Immediately after a tooth is broken, your child may feel fear or distress, and this can lead to shock-like symptoms You want to prevent the child from freaking out, or accidentally inhaling or swallowing the sharp tooth shard. Take a breath, calm yourself down, and then get the child to spit out anything in their mouth. If after trying to calm the child, they are still having problems breathing, call 911 immediately. It is possible in these instances for a piece of tooth to impair the respirations. If you are able to calm the child, and their breathing returns to normal, collect any and all pieces of the broken tooth you can find. For pain you can administer children’s tylenol or ibuprofen, and a cold compress is effective for numbing the topical area. If you are able to manage the situation, child, and child’s pain level without an immediate trip to the dentist or ER, it is important to make a follow up Dentist appointment promptly.
A Visit to the Dentist
Your Dentist will be able to advise on what precautions need to be taken after the breaking of the tooth. A broken tooth creates a unique situation for your child. On one hand, children’s teeth will fall out and be replaced by adult teeth. It is a natural part of growing up, and children’s teeth become more brittle as this stage approaches.
On the other hand, a broken or missing tooth leaves an area of the mouth vulnerable. An exposed gumline after a broken or missing tooth is more susceptible to gum disease and infection caused by harmful bacteria. Most children are not capable of having rigid dental hygiene in the same way as practiced adults. Statistically, missing teeth lead to more missing teeth also. The open areas of the mouth create inconsistencies in the ergonomics of the jaw, leading to problems with the gums, teeth, and potentially Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorders.
Your child’s Dentist will be able to take scans and collect images to determine how drastic this damage may be. They can investigate the root of the damaged tooth, to see if the area has any concerns for future dental abscess. You will need to monitor your child’s dental health for signs of dental abscess, gum disease, or infection. Sometime the tooth will need to be replaced, if only for a short time. In this case, it is helpful to have the remains of the tooth from when it was broken. The dentist will make a recommendation on whether the tooth should be replaced with a composite filling, or a dental crown. In a filling, a bonding agent will be used to attach the healthy tooth structure that remains with the broken tooth. The whole mass can be smoothed and polished to reduce any sharpness and maintain the shape and appeal of the original tooth. A crown may be used as well, where a synthetic tooth is attached to a root structure.
It is important to make a dentist appointment promptly, in order to curb any long term damage.