What Do I Do in a Dental Emergency?

When dental emergencies arise unexpectedly, the Groovy team is here to help you. Injuries to the face, mouth, and teeth are very common among children. First, you will need to assess whether your child’s injury caused vomiting or loss of consciousness even for a short time. If it did please contact your child’s physician right away. It’s important to remember that head injuries take priority over any mouth or tooth concerns. If your child has a tooth or mouth issue, simply follow these steps for treating common emergencies.

Our team promises to ALWAYS work you into our schedule when an emergency hits during office hours. If you happen to experience an emergency after our regular hours, call us at 501-764-3883 and we will direct you to an on call dentist.


What do you do when your child has a toothache? We all want to know how to help a child in pain. Here are some steps to follow when a toothache occurs:

  1. Clean the area around the sore tooth thoroughly.
  2. Rinse the mouth with warm salt water and/or use dental floss to remove any food trapped between the teeth.
  3. If the pain persists, call our office.

DO NOT place aspirin or heat on the affected area. If the face swells, apply cold compresses and contact us immediately.


Loss of Primary (Baby) Tooth 

Normal Loss of Primary Tooth:

Primary teeth (commonly referred to as Baby Teeth) are inevitably going to fall out.  We all know that when they do, there can be some bleeding. How can you help you child manage the bleeding when it happens? Follow these instructions:

  1. Apply a piece of gauze to the bleeding area.
  2. Have your child bite down on the gauze for 15 minutes.
  3. If the bleeding continues, call our office at 501-764-3883.

Knocked Out or Broken Primary Tooth

A commonly asked question we receive is since your child is going to lose their baby teeth at some point do you need to do anything if one gets knocked out? Typically this does not require attention immediately, but it’s worth a phone call to our office to discuss your child’s particular situation. Here is what to do:

  1. Contact our office to talk with a Groovy team member.
  2. Do NOT try to reinsert the tooth. Doing this can cause damage to permanent tooth buds.
  3. Next, make sure your child has no other injuries. With a broken or knocked out tooth, a lip could also be bruised or bleeding. Clean that area and apply cold compresses to keep the lip from swelling more. If you are worried about a head or neck injury, ask the child’s physician to perform a head/neck exam.
  4. Apply cold compresses to the area to reduce swelling.
  5. Your doctor may suggest an x-ray to make sure the entire tooth has come out.
  6. Impressions may also be taken to create a spacer to maintain the space for the permanent tooth to come in.

**Keep in mind that small fractures of baby teeth are very common, especially when children are learning to walk.


Loss of Permanent Tooth

Children lose baby teeth all the time. A little ice and a visit from the tooth fairy makes everyone feel better! Although loosing baby teeth is not a big deal, it’s very worrisome when a permanent tooth is knocked out. If you are able to react quickly, you have a higher change of saving the tooth, preventing infection and reducing the need for extensive dental treatment. What should you do in this emergency?

  1. Locate the tooth, if possible.
  2. Handle the tooth by the crown (the part you usually see) and NOT by the root (normally unseen).
  3. Rinse the tooth with water only. Do NOT use soap to clean. Try not to handle the tooth more than necessary.
  4. Closely look at the tooth for breakage. If tooth is still whole, try to re-insert it into the socket; if extreme force is needed, do NOT continue to reinsert the tooth. Have your child bite on gauze to keep the tooth in place. If it is broken,gather all the pieces you can find and transport as instructed below. 
  5. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, carry the tooth in a cup containing milk or your child’s saliva to keep it moist. If your child is old enough to do so without swallowing the tooth, have them carry it in their mouth, beside their cheek.
  6. CALL OUR OFFICE IMMEDIATELY! Your child will need to be seen as soon as possible; time is a critical factor in saving their tooth.
  7. Check to make sure there are no head injuries apart from the teeth. Have the child’s physician perform a head/neck exam.

Chipped or Broken Permanent Tooth

Wondering what to do if your child breaks a permanent tooth? The quicker the response, the better chance save the tooth, prevent infection and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. Here is what you should do:

  1. Rinse the area with warm water.
  2. Apply cold compresses to prevent excess swelling.
  4. Gather any fragments of the tooth you can find, and take them to the dentist with you.


Cut or Bite on Tongue, Lip, or Cheek
We all know bitting your tongue, lip, or cheek is the worst! Even though this injury happens all the time, many people don’t know what to do.  Here are the steps you should follow:

  1. For swelling: apply ice to the injured area.
  2. For bleeding: apply firm but gentle pressure with clean gauze or cloth.
  3. If bleeding does not stop with pressure or continues longer than 15 minutes, take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room.

Cold or Canker Sores

There is no definite cause for a cold sores. They can come from stress, vitamin or zinc deficiency, or viral origin. Cold sores typically last for 7-10 days and treatment is focused on relieving pain. Over-the-counter medications will usually provide temporary relief. If the sores persist, call our office at 501-764-3883.

Broken or Fractured Jaw:

Keep the jaw from moving and immediately take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room.


After Trauma Care

Even after the initial trauma, your child will require some additional care and attention. Follow these steps to treat ongoing pain, and swelling. Feel free to call our office if you have any ongoing concerns.

  1. Swelling: Ice should be applied during the first 24 hours to keep swelling down. If swelling re-appears, call our office to make an appointment as soon as possible.
  2. Infection: Watch carefully for infection in the area of the trauma. Call the office if you see any signs of infection.
  3. Diet: Assemble soft foods for two or three days, or until your child feels comfortable eating normally again. Avoid sweets and foods that are extremely hot or cold because these will be the hardest on their mouth.
  4. If antibiotics or pain medications were prescribed, be sure to follow the prescription as directed.