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Dental Emergencies

What If My Child Has a Dental Emergency

If your child has a dental emergency contact our office immediately by calling (713) 464-1651, if we are not in the office the phone system will advise you how to get a message to Dr. West. We will make every attempt to see you and make sure your child does not suffer discomfort.

Dental Emergencies

Pediatric Dentist - Dental Emergencies

Trauma to a Baby Tooth:

If your child chips or fractures a baby tooth contact our office by calling (713) 464-1651. The trauma may have caused a fracture to the root of the tooth which is not visible without a radiograph (x-ray). Also, displacement of the tooth may affect the developing permanent tooth.

Knocked Out Baby Tooth:

Contact Dr. West by calling (713)464-1651. Unlike with a permanent tooth, the baby tooth should not be reinserted into the gums due to possible damage to the permanent tooth that is developing underneath the primary tooth. In most cases, the treatment is limited to controlling any bleeding and swelling. However, occasionally we need to take a radiograph to confirm there are no fragments of the baby tooth root remaining in the gums. If the lip is cut it may be necessary to take a radiograph to confirm no fragment of the tooth is in the lip.

A Cut or Bite Involving the Tongue, Cheek or Lip:

To control swelling you should apply a cold compress (ice). To control bleeding you will need to apply pressure using a wash cloth or gauze, usually applying pressure for about ten (10) minutes will allow time for the injured area to clot and stop the bleeding. To avoid removing the blood clot that is forming allow the gauze or washcloth to remain in place for the full ten (10) minutes. If after ten minutes you cannot control the bleeding with pressure, you should contact our office by calling (713) 464-1651 or go to the hospital emergency room.


Clean the area of the affected tooth. Rinse the mouth thoroughly with warm water or use dental floss to dislodge any food that may be impacted. If the pain still exists, contact Dr. West immediately. Do not place aspirin or heat on the gum or on the aching tooth. If the face is swollen, apply cold compresses and contact Dr West by calling (713)464-1651.

Trauma to Permanent Teeth:

If you chip or fracture a permanent tooth contact our office by calling (713) 464-1651. Quick action could save the tooth, prevent the need for extensive treatment and prevent infection of the internal tissues (nerve and blood supply) of the tooth. Rinse the mouth with water (avoid cold water) and control swelling with cold compresses (ice). If you can locate the broken portion of the tooth, retrieve it and bring it to the office. Transport the broken fragment in a cup of water to keep it moist.

Knocked Out or Displaced Permanent Teeth:

Contact our office by calling (713) 464-1651. If the tooth or teeth are still attached, but displaced, it may be necessary to reposition them and splint them (think of putting a cast on a broken arm) to aid in their healing. If the tooth or teeth are knocked out of the mouth, try to find the tooth/teeth. Handle the tooth by the crown, avoid touching the root if possible. Rinse the tooth with water DO NOT attempt to scrub or clean the tooth with soap; do not handle the tooth unnecessarily. Inspect the tooth for fractures, if the tooth appears to be whole – no parts fractured off – try to reinsert it into its’ original socket, have the patient hold the tooth in place with gentle pressure. If you are not comfortable reinserting the tooth, place it in a cup of water, milk or the patient’s saliva. If the patient is old enough, the tooth may be carried in the patient’s mouth by holding it in the cheek or in an adult’s cheek. The length of time the tooth is outside the socket is critical!! You should see Dr. West or another dentist experienced in the re-implantation of teeth within thirty (30) minutes, preferably IMMEDIATELY! Caution, hospital emergency rooms frequently have Oral Surgeons on call, but they may not want to re-implant a tooth expecting to perform an implant later. Again, if it is appropriate, re-implantation may be the first treatment option knowing further treatment is necessary and the patient may ultimately need an implant – but once the tooth is discarded an implant is the only alternative.

Possible Broken or Fractured Jaw:

Stabilize the jaw to avoid movement and take the patient to the hospital emergency room. If possible, contact our office at (713)464-1651 while in route so we might consult with the hospital staff concerning your treatment.

Severe Blow to the Head:

Take the patient to the nearest hospital emergency room. We now are becoming much more aware of the possible long term effects of head trauma and concussions. This is something serious and should be evaluated by a physician. Contact your personal doctor for further instructions.

Read more about how to prevent dental emergencies during recreational activities and sports with mouth guards.

Prevention of Dental Injuries

You can help your child avoid dental emergencies. Child proof your home to avoid falls. Do not let your child chew on ice, popcorn kernels or other hard food. Always use a car seat for young children and make sure older children wear their seat belt. If your child plays sports make sure they wear a mouth guard. Ask Dr. West about custom fitted mouth guards. Finally prevent toothaches with regular brushing, flossing, and visits to our office.

What Can Be Done if My Child’s Permanent Tooth Cannot be Re-implanted after an Accident

When a patient is missing a front tooth because of facial trauma in which the tooth has been knocked out of the mouth and it is not a candidate for re-implantation it is very easy to camouflage the space so that it appears a tooth is present. If you can retrieve the tooth that has been knocked out it can still be adapted to maintain aesthetics and spacing. Orthodontic treatment options are available to manage the teeth that have been knocked out.