Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics in Fayetteville and Bentonville

Back to Basics: Dental Emergency

October 22, 2018

Cracked Tooth
Back to Basics: Dental Emergencies

How to Handle a Dental Emergency

Dental emergencies occur in all places and it is wise to know how to respond in these situations to provide the best oral mouth care for your child.

What is the difference between a dental emergency, a situation that may just require a scheduled visit, or just simple observation?

Please know that as the parent, you know your child and know if the situation is truly an emergency. Do not feel embarrassed if you feel the situation warrants an emergency room visit or a call to our emergency line.

Our most frequent dental call

We often get called when a permanent tooth is coming in behind a baby tooth. This is not considered an emergency. This situation generally just requires observation and is considered very normal. While this is not an emergency, if your child is experiencing pain and sensitivity, we would be happy to see them and check the tooth out.

Chipped Teeth

Another common problem we receive calls on is chipped teeth. Chips can be range from small problems to emergency situations. What is the difference?

  • A small chip on baby tooth: When a young child chips a baby tooth, this is usually no reason for great concern. The enamel is incredibly strong and difficult to chip, so most likely the chip is small and with it not being a permanent tooth, there is less reason for concern. However, as stated before, if you child is experiencing great pain, please feel free to call us.
  • Chipped permanent teeth: For a chip on a permanent tooth, we always want to see your child, but it does not usually warrant an emergency unless a nerve is exposed, there quite a bit of bleeding, or a great deal of pain is being experienced.
  • Nerve Exposed with Severe Chip: When a nerve is exposed in a tooth, a great deal of pain and discomfort occurs. This is considered an emergency and should be dealt with right away.

What to Watch for if You are a Teacher

Teachers can often catch dental concerns before parents due to the large volume of time they spend with children during the day. If you are a teacher and you observe one of the following, here are recommendations on what to do:

General Pain:

If you have a student complaining of general tooth pain, there generally is no need for great concern, but we advise sending the parent a note, in case the pain starts to become a reoccurring issue.


If you notice outside facial swelling, or swelling around the eye and check, this could signs of a dental infection. Please send the child to the school nurse and the school can get in contact with us if they feel it is dental related as we will want to start treating the infection right away.

What is a true dental emergency?

A true dental emergency is when we get avulsed permanent tooth. This is where a permanent tooth has been completed removed from the mouth. In this event, it important to get this tooth treated as quickly as possible. The best way to try to save the tooth is attempt to put it back in place until your child can see the dentist.

If it is after hours and your child has a dental emergency, simply call our number and you will can reach our emergency service line. On this line you will be triaged and asked some questions to understand what care your child needs. Our emergency line is available 24/7.

Resource for Teachers

If you are a teacher, we would love to come visit your classroom and teach about good oral health care! We offer a program called The Cavity Bug. This is a fun skit that helps discuss good oral health care and the difference between good snacks and bad snacks. We try our best to work with your schedule, but prefer to do them on Friday mornings. Since February is dental health month, we usually fill up our slots quite quickly, so if you are interested, please contact us at This program is designed for preschool age children up to 2nd graders.

If you have any questions on dental emergencies, please feel free to reach out to us or stop by one of our locations and we will be happy assist you!

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Our Doctors

Pediatric Dentists

Tonya R. Triplett, DDS
Jerry L. Sanders, DDS
William P. Tompkins, DDS
Karen A. Green, DDS
Garrett W. Sanders, DDS
Matthew S. Killingsworth, DMD

General Dentists

Courtney S. Smith, DDS
Leah S. Jennings, DMD
Valerie Q. Rockacy, DMD


Jason M. Landers, DDS, MS