Little teeth, big smiles

by Capt. Christianna Moore 86th Dental Squadron

Photo by Vitalinka/
Photo by Vitalinka/

Watching babies go from crawling and scooting to wobbling and walking makes for a very exciting time for parents. It also can be a little frightening as parents attempt to make the environment as safe as possible for their children. Some trips and stumbles are harmless, but other falls and bumps can injure children’s baby teeth. Establishing and maintaining a “dental home” will ensure there is a proper plan in place in times of stress and oral trauma. A dental home is having a primary care provider for your child’s oral health care; a place parents bring their children for regular exams and cleanings. Having a dental home can help both parents and children in these times of stress.

So what is a dental emergency? What should you do? A dental emergency can be many things. Traumatic injuries that result in significant bleeding, pain, swelling, knocked out and chipped teeth are among the most common. Treatment varies depending on whether the tooth is a baby primary tooth or adult permanent tooth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has a great checklist that can be referenced to help make quick decisions if any of these injuries occur. The checklist can be found at Now, let’s discuss what to do if an emergency occurs.

If your child chips a front tooth, either baby or permanent, use warm water to rinse the mouth to check for bleeding. A cold compress can be used on the lip or chin to help reduce swelling. Try and save any tooth fragments you find and bring them with you to the dentist. That tooth piece might be used if it is a permanent tooth for the repair. Don’t worry if you cannot find any or all of the tooth pieces. The dentist has other options to repair the tooth.

If an adult tooth is knocked out, try and minimize over handling the tooth. It is best if you can pick it up by the top part of the tooth not the root. If it is dirty, wash it briefly in cold water, but do not scrub the tooth! If possible, gently put the tooth back in place in the socket while you get to the dentist. If that is not possible, place the tooth in “Save-A-Tooth” saline solution, cold milk, or a container with your child’s saliva. Do not put it in water. Time is critical for the tooth to be saved, so get to a dentist quickly. In the KMC area, if it is after hours, you can go to Landstuhl Emergency Room. Don’t be surprised if the dentist does not put a baby tooth back into the mouth; they might not want to risk damaging the permanent tooth developing there.

Regardless of the type of dental emergency, try and remain as calm as possible. Children look to their parents for emotional cues so you remaining calm can help your child stay calm as well. The main concern in these cases is to try and control any bleeding with wet gauze or a washcloth. If in doubt about what to do, please call the dental clinic or go to the emergency room.

If your child has not seen a dentist yet or is currently due for a dental visit, the 86th Dental Squadron is holding its annual: Little Teeth Big Smiles weekend clinic for kids from 7:30 a.m. to noon Nov. 5. We will be performing dental examinations, cleanings, and educational services. It is open to Department of Defense ID cardholders for children from 0 to 10 years old. Call the dental clinic to schedule your appointment at 06371-46-2210 or 479-2210. Let us help your child have as great a dental experience as possible.