Last spring, the tooth fairy came really, really early to our house, and unfortunately it wasn’t cause for celebration. My then-14-month-old son lost his two bottom front baby teeth when his high chair (at a restaurant) tipped over and he had to be rushed to the emergency room. When we arrived, his teeth – root and all – were dangling from his gums but they hadn’t completely fallen out. I was initially told there was a chance the doctor could save his teeth by splinting them. But after careful X-rays and further examination, they decided to remove the teeth while reassuring me that there was no further trauma to his permanent teeth.

It was a horrible experience (probably more so for me than my son), but as a result I was able to learn some quick tips in dental emergencies that I didn’t know otherwise. When I got home I researched the information the doctor provided and found additional procedures from the American Dental Association – and thought this information could be useful to other moms!

The following tips for dental emergencies were taken from ADA’s web site and mainly refer to permanent teeth (fyi):

• If a tooth is knocked out, hold the tooth by the crown and rinse the root in water if it’s dirty. Do NOT scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If you can, gently place the tooth back in its socket or store it in a cup of milk and head for the dentist (with the tooth) immediately.

• If you break a tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water to keep the area clean and apply cold compresses on your face to reduce swelling. Go to the dentist immediately.

• Treat a bitten tongue or lip by cleaning gently with a cloth and applying cold compresses to reduce swelling. If bleeding is heavy or doesn’t stop after a short time, seek immediate treatment from your dentist or emergency room.

• If a toothache is getting you down, rinse your mouth with warm water, gently floss to remove food that may be trapped around it and see your dentist as soon as possible. Do NOT apply aspirin to the tooth or gum tissues.

• A jaw injury or possible fracture needs immediate attention at your dentist’s office or the emergency room. Apply cold compresses on the way to reduce swelling.

• If a loose or broken wire from your braces is irritating your mouth, cover the wire I end with a small cotton ball, beeswax or a piece of gauze until you can get to the dentist. Seek immediate treatment if a wire gets stuck in the cheek, tongue or gum tissue, but don’t try to pull it out yourself.

• If you have a dental emergency while you are traveling, check the yellow pages under “dentist” for the number of the state or local dental society; the society will be able to refer you to a nearby dentist. Or, visit the local emergency room and ask for a dentist referral. If you are abroad, contact the U.S. Embassy or hotel personnel for a dentist referral.

Not a fun topic to blog about, but one that is important. If you have other tips for dental emergencies, please share below!