Dental Trauma (Child)

A blow to the mouth can cause damage to the teeth. This is called dental trauma. Teeth may become loose, fall out, or break. Teeth may also be pushed up into the socket. The tissues inside the mouth might be injured. In rare cases, the jaw is injured. A dental trauma can cause a lot of bleeding, pain, and swelling. Baby teeth that are injured or fall out are not put back in place. A permanent tooth that has been knocked out will be replaced in the socket if possible.

A dental trauma can be frightening. It may cause a lot of bleeding, pain, and swelling. A dental trauma must be treated as soon as possible. Put a broken or knocked-out tooth in a small container of milk. Don't use tap water. Water can harm the tooth within a short period of time. You can also use a special tooth-saving solution that you may have in your home first-aid kit. Take the container with you to a dentist immediately.   

Home care

Your child’s healthcare provider may prescribe medicine for pain and to prevent infection. Follow all instructions for giving these medicines to your child. If your child is given an antibiotic, make sure to give all the medicine for the full number of days until it's gone. Keep giving the medicine even if your child has no symptoms.

General care

  • Apply a cold pack or ice compress for up to 20 minutes several times a day. This is to help reduce pain and relieve swelling. Cover it with a thin, dry cloth before putting it on your child’s skin.

  • Serve your child soft foods until he or she feel better. It may be difficult to chew hard foods for a few days.

  • Watch your child for signs of infection (see below).

Special note to parents

To help prevent dental injuries, follow these instructions:

  • Teach your child not to push other children when playing.

  • Make sure your child wears a helmet and mouthguard when playing sports, riding a bike, skateboarding, or roller skating.

  • Teach your child to use the ladder when getting out of a swimming pool.

  • Don’t allow your child to jump off a moving swing.

  • Teach your child to be careful of his or her teeth and friends' teeth when playing.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call your child's healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fever (see Fever and children, below)

  • Aching pain in a tooth

  • A tooth that is sensitive to cold

  • Headache, dizziness, or confusion

  • Redness or swelling around the tooth

  • Pain that gets worse

  • Fluid leaking from the area around the tooth

Fever and children

Always use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Never use a mercury thermometer.

For infants and toddlers, be sure to use a rectal thermometer correctly. A rectal thermometer may accidentally poke a hole in (perforate) the rectum. It may also pass on germs from the stool. Always follow the product maker’s directions for proper use. If you don’t feel comfortable taking a rectal temperature, use another method. When you talk to your child’s healthcare provider, tell him or her which method you used to take your child’s temperature.

Here are guidelines for fever temperature. Ear temperatures aren’t accurate before 6 months of age. Don’t take an oral temperature until your child is at least 4 years old.

Baby under 3 months old:

  • Ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the temperature.

  • Rectal or forehead (temporal artery) temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Armpit temperature of 99°F (37.2°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

Child age 3 to 36 months:

  • Rectal, forehead (temporal artery), or ear temperature of 102°F (38.9°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Armpit temperature of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

Child of any age:

  • Repeated temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours in a child under 2 years old. Or a fever that lasts for 3 days in a child 2 years or older.

© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Powered by Krames Patient Education - A Product of StayWell