Cracked teeth are pretty common, especially in active kids. Falls, sports injuries, and chewing on hard candy or ice can all cause tooth cracks. If your child has an untreated cavity, the risk of a crack in that tooth is also higher. The same is true if your child tends to grind their teeth — either while they’re awake or while they’re sleeping (a condition called bruxism).
At Dental Kidz Club, we know that even a tiny untreated crack can lead to big oral health problems for your child. As a top-ranked pediatric dentistry practice in Southern California, our team offers emergency dental care aimed at relieving your child’s painful symptoms and preventing cracks from causing more serious issues. Here’s what to do if your child cracks a tooth.
How to care for a cracked tooth
If you think your child has cracked a tooth, the first thing you need to do is call our office. By reviewing your child’s symptoms, we’ll be able to tell if you need to bring your child in right away or if it’s OK to wait for the next business day before scheduling a visit. After calling the office, take the following steps to protect the tooth and keep your child comfortable.
Rinse with warm water
A little gentle rinsing cleans the tooth and the surrounding area, washing away food particles and germs that can contribute to decay, infection, and inflammation. To help reduce swelling in the gums and surrounding soft tissue, add a little salt to the water. Salt helps draw out excess fluids that contribute to painful inflammation, and it can keep bacteria growth low, too.
Use a cool compress
Often, a cracked tooth is accompanied by swollen gums. If that happens, applying a cool compress to the outside of your child’s cheek can help. You can also use an ice pack or a frozen bag of peas wrapped in a towel.
Apply some dental wax
Dental wax prevents bacteria from entering the tooth, and if the crack leaves a sharp edge, it can prevent gum irritation, too. Plus, once the wax is applied, you can reduce the sensitivity that happens when cool air or liquids touch the tooth.
Keeping dental wax in your emergency kit is a smart move, but if you don’t have any on hand, sugar-free gum can serve the same purpose. Do NOT use gum that contains sugars, since that may increase the risk of sensitivity and decay.
Stick to soft foods or liquids
Yogurt, soup, and smoothies keep your child full and satisfied without putting pressure on the tooth. Because the cracked tooth can be especially sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, serve foods as close to room temperature as possible.
Don’t use the tooth for chewing
Chewing increases pressure on the cracked tooth, increasing the risk of more serious damage (like fractures). Chewing also forces bacteria or food particles into the crack (yes, even a tiny crack). Have your child avoid chewing on that side, even if your child is eating soft foods.
Use over-the-counter pain relievers
Aspirin, ibuprofen, and other over-the-counter medicines are great for relieving pain and inflammation. You can also try a little topical pain reliever made just for dental emergencies.
Keeping your child’s teeth healthy
You can completely eliminate the risk of a cracked tooth, but you can reduce your child’s chances of many kinds of tooth damage. Having routine dental visits and taking care of cavities, cracks, and other problems right away keeps teeth healthy and strong, so they can ward off many types of damage.
If your child has symptoms of tooth pain, swelling, or increased sensitivity to temperature changes, don’t put off getting treatment. Book an appointment online or over the phone at our offices in Brea, Chino, Corona, Covina, Riverside, Ontario, and Perris, California, today.