What to Do If a Child Breaks a Tooth


Guest blogger, Dr. Santiago Surillo

Injuries to the mouth are sometimes inevitable with children, so what should you do if your child chips or breaks a tooth? 

At some point, you may experience an injury to one of your child’s teeth. A hard fall, an injury while playing a sport, or crunching down on a piece of hard candy or ice can lead to chipped or broken teeth. Do you know what you should do if this happens?

“If a tooth is fractured or broken, whether it is a permanent tooth or a baby tooth, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your dentist right away,” says San Diego orthodontist and pediatric dentist Dr. Santiago Surillo. “Many parents mistakenly believe that if an injury occurs to a baby tooth, they can ignore it since the tooth will fall out eventually anyway. But, that is just not the case – your child’s baby teeth serve an important role and should be repaired just as a permanent tooth would be.”

Once a tooth has been chipped, cracked or broken, it leaves a space where bacteria can enter. Once bacteria enters into the crack, it can travel to the pulp or nerve of the tooth, causing pain and infection, and can lead to the need for a root canal.

If your child has broken a tooth, follow these steps:

  1. Schedule an appointment with your dentist right away so the dentist can assess the damage and repair the tooth before more damage occurs.
  2. Rinse your child’s mouth with water to clean the area, and inspect the mouth to be sure there are no pieces of tooth stuck in the gums, lips or tongue.
  3. If an injury to the mouth occurred, place a cold compress on the face to reduce swelling.
  4. If you can find the piece of broken tooth, place it in a glass of milk to preserve it and bring it with you to the dentist’s office. In some cases, the broken piece can simply be reattached.

If a baby tooth is knocked out completely, don’t attempt to place the tooth back in your child’s mouth. Doing so could cause damage to the permanent teeth still in the gum behind it. Your dentist will be able to determine the proper steps to take to ensure there is no damage to the permanent tooth and help manage any pain and prevent infection from setting in.

If a permanent tooth is knocked out, avoid touching the root of the tooth. Gently rinse it in cold water, and place it back in the tooth socket. Have your child bite down gently on clean gauze and seek out dental care immediately. A permanent tooth has the best chance to survive after being knocked out if it is replanted right away.

If your child has a chip or crack in a tooth, your pediatric dentist will be able to determine the best way to properly treat it. If it is a baby tooth that is chipped, it may simply need to be smoothed and polished. If a front tooth is chipped, the dentist can smooth it and place a tooth-colored filling in the chipped area.

If a tooth has been broken completely, it may require either a filling or a crown to properly repair it. If more than half of the tooth is broken, it may expose the nerve, which will require immediate attention.

“The most important thing to do if your child damages a tooth is to schedule an appointment with the dentist as soon as possible,” says Dr. Surillo. “We can work to save as much of your child’s tooth as possible, and hopefully prevent the need for more extensive dental work. Waiting too long to repair a damaged tooth can lead to the need for a root canal, a crown when a filling may have been adequate, or even the need to pull the tooth.”

Dr-Santiago-SurilloAbout Dr. Santiago Surillo

San Diego Kids Dentist is Dr. Santiago Surillo’s website where you can find more information about children’s dentistry or orthodontics.

Dr. Surillo is a dual-trained specialist with certifications in both orthodontics and pediatric dentistry, giving him a unique advantage when treating children. He is a second-generation dentist, and is one of only a handful of dual-trained specialists in the area. Dr. Surillo has more than 20 years of experience treating children of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers.

Dr. Surillo is dedicated to achieving the best in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics, and his Master’s Thesis on Skeletal Jaw Classifications helped to redefine the modern diagnosis and treatment planning in children. His training and expertise in the treatment of dento-facial orthopedics helps him offer the best treatment available to both his pediatric dentistry and orthodontics patients.

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Could Your Child Benefit from Using an Electric Toothbrush?

Could Your Child Benefit From Using an Electric Toothbrush

Guest Blogger, Dr. Robert Gire

When your child is going through orthodontic treatment, it’s more important than ever to ensure they take proper care of their teeth and gums. But orthodontists know that it can sometimes be challenging, especially for adolescent patients, to properly brush and floss while wearing braces.

“I talk to patients and their parents all the time who are worried about their dental routine while wearing braces,” says Dr. Robert, a Chino Hills orthodontist. “If you don’t properly clean your teeth while wearing braces, food and plaque debris can remain and build-up over time, leaving an environment that makes the teeth more susceptible to decay.”

So what’s the best way to ensure your teeth stay clean and healthy throughout treatment? Dr. Gire recommends switching from a manual toothbrush to an electric one during your time in braces. Studies have shown that an electric toothbrush can do an overall better job at cleaning the teeth and removing signs of plaque build-up.

Because the brackets and wires of braces create nooks and crannies that can trap food particles, proper brushing is crucial during orthodontic treatment. Dental decay and gum disease can possibly prolong your child’s treatment times as they receive treatment from their dentist. Investing in a good electric toothbrush for your child can ensure their treatment stays on track.

Today’s electric toothbrushes are more efficient than ever at helping clean the teeth, and many have settings that help us improve our oral care. If you are worried your child may not be spending the amount of time needed to adequately clean their teeth, look for an electric toothbrush that has a timer and different intensity settings.

“For our patients who don’t brush long enough, or who brush incorrectly, we find that electric toothbrushes can help improve their hygiene routine,” says Dr. Gire. “Because the brush head moves on its own, it does more of the work to remove stains and plaque, while you simply guide it through the mouth.”

When purchasing an electric toothbrush, look for one with a small head and soft bristles. Your child should be brushing for at least two minutes twice a day, so if you are worried about the length of time he or she brushes, look for one with a built-in timer.

When purchasing a toothbrush, look for one that has the American Dental Association (ADA) seal. This ensures that the toothbrush has been tested for safety and effectiveness, and will perform as promised.

“It’s also important that no matter what kind of brush your child is using, that it gets replaced more often during orthodontic treatment,” says Dr. Gire. “The metal brackets and wires can wear down the brush bristles more quickly, so it’s a good idea to buy a new manual brush or electric brush head every 3-4 months or so during treatment.”

Electric toothbrushes can also come with attachments that can aid in your child’s cleaning, including special orthodontic tips that can better reach around the brackets of the braces.

It is also important to maintain all regular checkups with your child’s dentist during his or her orthodontic treatment. This will ensure any issues can be treated before a more serious problem occurs, which could alter treatment time.

If you have any questions about your child’s treatment or dental hygiene during treatment, the experts at Gire Orthodontics are always happy to help.

Dr-Robert-Gire-Orthodontist-Chino-HillsAbout Dr. Robert Gire

Dr. Robert Gire graduated from the University of Wyoming before attended the University of Southern California School of Dentistry, where he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. After graduating from dental school, Dr. Gire joined the United States Air Force Academy, where he received advanced education in general dentistry residency and served as a Captain and general dentist for four years. After completing his time in the Air Force, Dr. Gire then received a degree is orthodontics and masters of dental science from the University of Colorado School of Dentistry.


His extended training has given Dr. Gire a keen eye for creating beautiful and functional smiles. He understands the important role that teeth play in creating a harmonious face, and works hard to give his patients the smiles of their dreams. Additionally, Dr. Gire serves as an assistant pre-clinical lab instructor at the Ostrow USC School of Dentistry. At his private practice, Gire Orthodontics, Dr. Gire provides cutting edge orthodontic treatments to patients of all ages including kids, teens and adults. Gire Orthodontics offers all types of braces including Invisalign, Invisalign Teen, traditional metal braces, Damon braces, clear braces, self-ligating braces as well as lingual or behind-the-teeth braces. Dr. Gire has flexible hours and accepts most of the dental insurances.

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