Is a Broken Baby Tooth an Emergency?

Is a Broken Baby Tooth an Emergency?

May 26, 2020 / in / by Fort Worth Children's Dentistry
little girl holding teeth model

Accidents and injuries are a normal part of childhood. From learning to walk and navigating stairs to playing sports, there are many ways in which your child could experience a trauma that affects their mouth and teeth. Some injuries are just a chip that causes a small area of the tooth to break off, but in more serious accidents, it is possible for a baby tooth to become cracked or broken. The severity of the damage to your child’s tooth will largely dictate whether or not they experience any symptoms of their injury, how significant these symptoms are likely to be, and what treatment your pediatric dentist will recommend to repair the baby tooth so that it can continue to be used until it naturally falls out.

But, how do you know if your child’s broken baby tooth is serious enough to warrant a visit to your emergency pediatric dentist?

Unless your child is in pain, many chipped or broken baby teeth aren’t serious. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have them checked out. It is impossible to determine just how much damage there is yourself, so you should always have the tooth evaluated by a professional. For this reason, it is recommended that you always see your emergency pediatric dentist for an evaluation of your child’s teeth after an injury.

Emergency care for your child’s broken baby tooth

Immediately after the tooth is broken, there are a few things that you can do that could improve the outcome of the situation for your child. Firstly, don’t panic. Children pick up on the emotional responses of their parents/caregivers and mimic them, so if you seem panicked or scared, your child will as well.

If there are any fragments of the broken-off tooth that you can find, be sure to collect these and bring them to your emergency pediatric dentist as in some cases, it may be possible to reattach them. If your child appears to be experiencing any sort of breathing problems following their injury, you should take them to an emergency room immediately as it may be that they accidentally swallowed part of the tooth that is compromising their breathing.

If your child is in pain, you can give them their usual form of over-the-counter pain medication which will hopefully help get this under control. You can also hold a cold compress to their mouth where the affected tooth is which will help numb the area until your dentist can assess it and provide better pain relief if necessary.

Repairing a broken baby tooth

There are a variety of different options available when it comes to repairing a broken baby tooth and the treatment that will be offered to your child will hinge on several factors. These include:

  • How close the tooth is to coming out naturally

  • How severely damage the tooth is

  • How much pain your child is in

  • The potential risk of infection


In some instances, it may be possible to repair the broken tooth with a restoration such as a cavity filling or dental crown. In the case of a filling, your dentist will apply the filling material and mold it into place so that there are no sharp edges and the size and strength of the tooth is restored. It can then be polished which will complete the process. In the case of larger chips or breaks that extend beyond the hard enamel exterior of the tooth, a crown may be more appropriate.

Of course, it may be that the damage is superficial and requires no intervention at all, although you will be recommended to monitor the tooth should anything change in the days following the injury. Discoloration is to be expected and unfortunately, a small number of teeth will go on to develop dental abscesses as a result of the trauma experienced. Your pediatric dentist will explain the signs of a dental abscess to you so that if your child does develop a dental abscess, it can be caught and treated early before it has a chance to cause significant pain and other damage to your child’s health.

Finally, if the damage is significant and beyond repair or the tooth is close to coming out anyway, an extraction may be offered and could be the best course of action.

For more advice on what to do if your child experiences a broken baby tooth, don’t hesitate to speak to our knowledgeable pediatric dentistry team today.