A Guide to Children's Dental Emergencies on Thanksgiving

A Guide to Children's Dental Emergencies on Thanksgiving
Posted on 11/02/2020

family at thanksgiving dinner tableThanksgiving is an ideal time for family gathering, eating, and kickstarting the whole holiday season. Unfortunately, problems can occur on the holiday, including dental injuries. With dental offices typically closed on Thanksgiving, you have to consider whether to call in for an emergency dental service or treat your child at home until the office opens again.

Follow our guide to determine the best course of action and whether to move forward with an emergency appointment or seek another course of action.


Thanksgiving is one of the biggest food-centered holidays and children may be exposed to all kinds of new food. In some cases, turkey bones, hard biscuit edges, pieces of pie, and other bites of side dishes can get lodged in teeth and gums. When a pocket opens on the gums, bacteria can easily get trapped inside.

The bacteria may cause a toothache, which worsens when the tooth is exposed to air. The main concern when your child has the onset of a toothache is protecting the root of the tooth. An emergency root canal or dental cleaning may be needed to relieve your child from the toothache and make the gums healthy again.

If your child has a mild toothache, then use a toothbrush, some flossers, and mouthwash to try and remove any particles stuck in the tooth. If the gums bleed, then you should contact the emergency dental contact line to see what further steps to take.

Broken Teeth

A variety of family Thanksgiving activities can result in a broken tooth. Anything from a family game of touch football to biting down on a hard piece of candy can cause a child to lose a tooth. If the tooth is a baby tooth, you usually have little to worry about. Monitor the gums and ensure the bleeding stops. If the bleeding persists, then you should contact the dentist.

If a permanent tooth falls out, then you should contact a dentist as soon as possible. You have a limited amount of time to reattach the tooth. You should try to collect as much of the tooth as possible. For example, if the tooth cracks into two pieces, try to get both pieces before you leave. 

If possible, try to insert the tooth back into the socket and use a washcloth to press the tooth into place. This may be harder with some children, especially if they have pain in their mouth. If you cannot place the tooth, then submerge the tooth in milk until you arrive at the dentist's office, either in a cup or plastic baggie.

The milk will help preserve the roots of the tooth and keep it alive until the dentist can connect the tooth again. The quicker you arrive at the dentist, the better, so you should leave for the dentist as quickly as possible and call them along the way to save time.

If the tooth is chipped, then you can save the chipped tooth but probably do not need an emergency appointment. A dentist may perform treatments in the future to fix the tooth. Possible treatments include veneers or bonding. After a full exam, the dentist will prescribe the best course of action.

Mouth Burns

Thanksgiving dinner is often served hot and fresh, sometimes a little too hot. If your child suffers a mouth burn at Thanksgiving, you must first determine the severity of the burn. A little redness and swollen gums should be treated with an ice pack.

If the mouth has obvious charred or white burn marks, then you should probably take the child to an emergency room for treatment. The emergency room will provide faster treatment than the dentist.

After treatment, you can make a follow-up appointment with your dentist to complete a full mouth exam. Third-degree burns can leave permanent damage and a dentist can examine the taste buds on the tongue as well.

Tongue Injuries

Family talks, singing songs, or big bites of pie could all lead to accidental tongue injuries. If a child bites their tongue too hard, there could be a large cut or a chunk even taken out. Thankfully, tongues heal pretty quickly and you do not need to follow up with a dentist.

If bleeding persists on the tongue, then take your child to the emergency room for treatment. The ER can provide gauze and methods to help stop the blood flow and clean up the tongue. Once excess blood is cleared from the mouth, a doctor can determine if any additional damage occurred to the teeth or gums.

Most tongue injuries will not impact the teeth directly, as the teeth are usually what causes damage to the tongue in the first place.

If an emergency does occur on a big holiday, contact our professionals today at Dentistry for Children & Adolescents. We can provide you with step-by-step instructions and the ideal treatment for your child.


Dentistry for Children & Adolescents

  • Edina Office - 7373 France Ave. S., Suite 402, Edina, MN 55435 Phone: 952-831-4400
  • Burnsville Office - 14050 Nicollet Ave., Suite 100, Burnsville, MN 55337 Phone: 952-435-4102
  • Eden Prairie Office - 6385 Old Shady Oak Road, Suite 150, Eden Prairie , MN 55344 Phone: 952-932-0920

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