At Dentistry for Children, we know there is no time to lose when your child has chipped, broken or cracked a tooth. Although we covered your part in this emergency briefly in our webpage marked “FAQ,” we thought you would like to have a more detailed explanation.
If you are within ear shot of a child who breaks a tooth, you will probably hear ear-splitting, jaw dropping, eye-popping screech of pain and fear.
A child can chip or break a tooth in countless ways and all of them are brutal.
Broken or Chipped Tooth Causes
Four year old Lilly was riding her tricycle—down steps. Michael was playing soccer on a vacant lot—
with the big boys. Bella ran head-long into a clothesline pole. In her defense, another child was chasing her.
Whatever the cause, a chipped or broken tooth will often signal pain and typically produce tears. It not only feels awful, it looks awful.
At Dentistry for Children, we field many calls from panicked parents who want to know how to respond to a broken or chipped tooth. In a word, we agree with many experts who say simply “quickly.”
Broken or Chipped Tooth Merits Immediate Action
A parent wants to be prepared. Although you might have a good gut-instinct for doing the right things in this situation, we think you should also know what NOT to do. When asked how to respond, we always tell parents, “quickly.”
The reason is that the more quickly you respond, the better chance we have for saving the tooth.
Broken or Chipped Tooth Warrants An Emergency Call!
1. First, call Dentistry for Children. Even if we are beyond office hours, we will attempt to come up with an emergency appointment.
2. Likewise, save the tooth chip or the shards. If there is only a small piece, at least it will facilitate color-matching.
3. Do you see exposed dentin or pulp? The tooth is in jeopardy. Bacteria could enter, causing infection.
It is possible a root canal or pulpectomy will be necessary. The dentist will patch the chipped or broken tooth.
4. Position of the Tooth: “If a tooth gets knocked out of position, try gently moving it back into its proper place. Doing so may help preserve the ligament tissue.” Please make note that, “A root canal may still be needed, but moving it back into position, when possible, can improve the chance that the tooth will reattach to the jawbone properly.”
5. Broken Tooth: Whoa! Caution—This Tooth Is Completely Knocked Out! If a child’s tooth gets knocked out completely, “keep calm and carry on” a search for it. We recommend placing it in a cup of cold milk for transport to the dental office.
6. The Broken Tooth Should Not Be Scrubbed!
7. Likewise, you should not wrap the tooth in a towel or napkin.
8. Broken Baby Teeth are Important Too! We have mentioned previously, how important it was to allow the baby teeth to save the space and proper position for the eruption of permanent teeth.
You will still visit the dentist, who must examine your child’s broken to “determine whether any stopgap measure is needed and whether there is any underlying damage to the permanent teeth or jawline.”
9. Repairing a Broken Tooth: We Fix the Tooth and the Tears At Dentistry for Children.
A small chip can often be polished out of the enamel of the tooth. Other treatments will be more complex. Options include such treatments as crowns, veneers, and spacers. They will all be discussed in next week’s Part II of our coverage of this topic.
A Broken Tooth Named “Chip?”
There is an adorable character in Disney’s film, Beauty and the Beast. He is a perky, chipped and cracked teacup named, of course, “Chip.” But we want your child to know that “Chip” is not a good name for a tooth.
Unlike the little animated teacup, a chipped or broken tooth will not be a happy, smiling tooth until it has been treated by a dentist.
Thank you for reading the first Broken Tooth Blog at Dentistry for Children! The story continues next week. Several options for treatment will be discussed in Part 2 of our coverage of this topic.