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Acute Dental Trauma in Children


Acute dental trauma is a serious injury to one or more parts of your child's mouth. The injury may include damage to any of your child's teeth, the tooth socket, the tooth root, or jaw. Your child can also have an injury to soft tissues, such as his or her tongue, cheeks, gums, or lips. Severe injuries can expose the soft pulp inside the tooth.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child has trouble breathing.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child loses one or more of his or her teeth, or a tooth moves out of place.
  • Your child has severe bleeding in his or her mouth that does not stop after 10 minutes.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has new symptoms, or symptoms become worse.
  • Your child feels pain when air gets in contact with the damaged tooth.
  • Your child has tooth pain when he or she eats foods that are hot, cold, sweet, or sour.
  • Your child's tooth color becomes darker.
  • You have questions or concern about your child's condition or care.


Your child may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to give your child and how often to give it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines your child uses to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your child's doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Manage acute dental trauma:

  • Apply ice on your child's jaw or cheek for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you apply it. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Tell your child not to use the damaged tooth. Chewing food on a damaged tooth may put too much pressure on it and worsen the injury.
  • Have your child eat soft foods or drink liquids for 1 week or as directed. Soft foods and liquids may be easier to eat until the injury heals. Soft foods include applesauce, pudding, mashed potatoes, gelatin, and ice cream.
  • Care for your child's mouth while he or she heals. Have your child use a soft toothbrush and rinse his or her mouth as directed. Your child's healthcare provider may recommend a solution that contains chlorhexidine 0.1%. This solution will help prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Have your child rinse 2 times each day, or as directed.
  • Keep any soft tissue wounds clean. Use prescribed mouthwash as directed. Your older child can gargle with a salt water solution. To make the solution, mix 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 cup of warm water. You can also clean your child's wounds with hydrogen peroxide swabs. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on how to clean your child's wounds.
  • Ask about sports. Do not let your child play contact sports such as football until his or her healthcare provider says it is okay. Always have your child wear protective gear when he or she plays sports. Your child must wear a helmet and mouth guard that meet safety standards. These will prevent damage to your child's gums, teeth, and the bones that support his or her mouth.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.