Taking care of your child’s dental emergencies

Monday June 18 2018

African American mother and daughter brushing

African American mother and daughter brushing teeth. 

By Your Health reporter

There is something fascinating about a child’s first teeth both for the baby and parents. While for a parent it is a mark of yet another milestone, for the child it opens up a world of adventure.

It is amazing that children keep their teeth given the rate at which they bite, chew and suck on the most bizarre objects. But accidents do and can happen anytime and anywhere. Knowing how to take care of your child’s teeth will make a difference between saving their teeth and losing them which can have serious damage to their health and self-confidence.

Dr Hamidu Kibuku, a dentist, notes that taking proper care of children’s teeth helps prevent oral infection and increase the chances of healthy teeth.

One of the most important ways of taking proper care of your child’s teeth is proper cleaning. Dr Kibuku recommends that parents brush their children’s teeth until approximately age eight when their motor skills have developed.


“Parents should begin cleaning before or as soon as they notice the first tooth, typically around six to 12 months old,” he advises. Because a brush might be too harsh for babies and toddlers, Dr Kibuku recommends using a wet gauze to clean which will help remove plaque that can harm developing teeth.

As the child begins to teeth, it is advisable to start brushing with a baby toothbrush with a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste. To prevent infection avoid or control the amount of sugary beverages intake such as juice or soda.

John Musoke, a public health dental officer, says there are so many accidents that can happen to children but the best way to cope is to always be prepared to accommodate such emergencies.

Broken tooth

Musoke relates that he has seen countless parents panicked senseless at the sight of broken tooth. “The best course of action is to appear calm which will in turn calm the child down.

Before rushing to the dentist rinse the mouth with water and place gauze in the opening. You can also apply cold compresses on the outside of the mouth to reduce swelling,” Musoke advises.

In case it is a permanent tooth that has been knocked out, Musoke advises to get the tooth, rinse it in cool water and gently replace it in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or wash cloth. “If the tooth does not fit in the socket, or if the child is in so much pain or might swallow it, put it in a container of milk and take it with you to the dentist,” Musoke adds.

Cracked tooth

Dr Kibuku says in case you notice that your child’s tooth has been broken, chipped or cracked, rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling before taking the child to the dentist.

If you can find the broken tooth fragment, bring it to the dentist. The faster you take the child to the dentists the more chances of saving the tooth, preventing infection and reducing the need for extensive dental treatment

Musoke says sometimes the emergency might not be as obvious as a lost or a chipped tooth but nevertheless the child will be in pain. The first thing to do is calm the child down and check their teeth as much as you can.

Most toothaches are caused by food getting stuck in the teeth, development of cavities, trauma from a hit, tooth fracture or a new tooth coming out. Rinse out the child’s mouth and look out for any of these causes.

In case there is an object stuck in your child’s moth, try to gently remove with floss but do not try to remove it with sharp or pointed instruments thereafter take the child to see the dentist as soon as possible.

One of the most painful childhood oral emergencies is a tooth abscess Dr Kibuku notes. An abscess is an infection occurring in the roots your child’s tooth.

If left unchecked, this infection can spread to other parts of the body causing severe tooth, jaw, or gum pain, swollen gums, fever and bad taste in mouth.

Bad breath

What do you do when you notice your child’s hitherto sweet breath has turned foul? Bad breath also known as halitosis in children is usually an indicator that they are not brushing properly which has resulted in a gum disease.

“If there is a large untreated cavity, there will be a strong smell causing bad breath. This means you will need visit the dentist,” Musoke advises.