European Archives of Paediatric Dentistry

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 245–253 | Cite as

Paediatric dental emergencies: a retrospective study and a proposal for definition and guidelines including pain management

  • L. C. MartensEmail author
  • S. Rajasekharan
  • W. Jacquet
  • J. D. Vandenbulcke
  • J. W. G. Van Acker
  • R. G. E. C. Cauwels
Original Scientific Article



This was primarily to perform a retrospective analysis of 1000 emergency dental visits in order to characterize the nature of the dental emergency and the treatment provided and secondly to define a guideline for dental emergency treatment in children including pain management.

Materials and methods

A retrospective review was conducted of 1000 patients (aged 0–16 years) who visited the dental emergency service of the paediatric dental clinic at the Ghent University Hospital, Belgium over a period of 3 years. Data regarding age, gender, reason for visit, year of visit, consequent appointments and treatment provided were collected. Statistical analysis was carried out using descriptive statistics (frequency distribution) and Chi-square test, with significance level set as P < 0.05.


The number of patients visiting with a dental emergency increased annually. Approximately half (50.2%) of all paediatric dental emergency consultations were based on pain due to caries and its consequences. More than a quartile (26.7%) of emergency patients suffered from dental trauma of either primar or permanent teeth. The majority (96.7%) of the patients reported pain, 16.3% of the patients did not necessarily need immediate attention.


Dental emergencies in a university hospital based setting were predominantly related to caries and trauma. A precise definition of dental emergencies is recommended in order to prevent abuse of paediatric emergency services.


Emergency Children Pain management 



The authors would like to thank Ms. Joni Mattelaer for her help in obtaining and extracting patient data from hard copy files.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in the present study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


  1. Agostini FG, Flaitz CM, Hicks MJ. Dental emergencies in a university-based pediatric dentistry postgraduate outpatient clinic: a retrospective study. ASDC J Dent Child. 2001;68:316–21 (300–1).Google Scholar
  2. Andreasen JO, Ravn JJ. Epidemiology of traumatic dental injuries to primary and permanent teeth in a Danish population sample. Int J Oral Surg. 1972;1:235–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Battenhouse MA, Nazif MM, Zullo T. Emergency care in pediatric dentistry. ASDC J dent Child. 1988;55(1):68–71PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Correa-Faria P, Martins CC, Bonecker M, et al. Clinical factors and socio-demographic characteristics associated with dental trauma in children: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Dent Traumatol. 2016;32:367–78.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Deluke DJ. Emergency dental care for the community: what is the responsibility of the hospital? J Hosp Dent Pract. 1976;10:43–5.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Edelstein BL. Disparities in oral health and access to care: findings of national surveys. Ambul Pediatr. 2002;2:141–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Ellbrant J, Akeson J, Akeson PK. Pediatric emergency department management benefits from appropriate early redirection of nonurgent visits. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2015;31:95–100.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Fleming P, Gregg TA, Saunders ID. Analysis of an emergency dental service provided at a children’s hospital. Int J Paediatr Dent. 1991;1:25–30.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Hong LA, Ahmed A, Mccunniff M, et al. Secular trends in hospital emergency department visits for dental care in Kansas City, Missouri, 2001–2006. Public Health Rep. 2011;126:210–9.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Jung CP, Tsai AI, Chen CM. A 2-year retrospective study of pediatric dental emergency visits at a hospital emergency center in Taiwan. Biomedical Journal. 2016;39:207–13.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Ladrillo TE, Hobdell MH, Caviness AC. Increasing prevalence of emergency department visits for pediatric dental care, 1997–2001. J Am Dent Assoc. 2006;137:379–85.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Levine N. Injury to the primary dentition. Dent Clin North Am. 1982;26:461–80.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Lygidakis NA, Marinou D, Katsaris N. Analysis of dental emergencies presenting to a community paediatric dentistry centre. Int J Paediatr Dent. 1998;8:181–90.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Naidu RS, Boodoo D, Percival T, Newton JT. Dental emergencies presenting to a university-based paediatric dentistry clinic in the West Indies. Int J Paediatr Dent. 2005;15:177–84.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Rowley ST, Sheller B, Williams BJ, Mancl L. Utilization of hospital for treatment of pediatric dental emergencies. Pediatr Dent. 2006;28(1):10–7PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Sakai VT, Magalhaes AC, Pessan JP, Silva SM, Machado MA. Urgency treatment profile of 0 to 15 year-old children assisted at urgency dental service from Bauru Dental School, University of Sao Paulo. J Appl Oral Sci. 2005;13:340–4.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Schwartz S. A one-year statistical analysis of dental emergencies in a pediatric hospital. J Can Dent Assoc. 1994;60:959–62 (966–8).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. SDCEP. Scottish dental clinical effectiveness programme: emergency dental care dental clinical guidance. Scotland: Dundee; 2007.Google Scholar
  19. Sheiham A. Dental caries affects body weight, growth and quality of life in pre-school children. Br Dent J. 2006;201:625–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Shortliffe EC, Hamilton TS, Noroian EH. The emergency room and the changing pattern of medical care. N Engl J Med. 1958;258:20–5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Shqair AQ, Gomes GB, Oliveira A, et al. Dental emergencies in a university pediatric dentistry clinic: a retrospective study. Braz Oral Res. 2012;26:50–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. WHO. Guidelines on the pharmacological treatment of persisting pain in children with medical illnesses. Geneva: WHO; 2012.Google Scholar
  23. Wilson S, Smith GA, Preisch J, Casamassimo PS. Nontraumatic dental emergencies in a pediatric emergency department. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1997;36:333–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wong NH, Tran C, Pukallus M, Holcombe T, Seow WK. A three-year retrospective study of emergency visits at an oral health clinic in south-east Queensland. Aust Dent J. 2012;57:132–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Zeng Y, Sheller B, Milgrom P. Epidemiology of dental emergency visits to an urban children’s hospital. Pediatr Dent. 1994;16:419–23.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© European Academy of Paediatric Dentistry 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. C. Martens
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. Rajasekharan
    • 1
  • W. Jacquet
    • 2
    • 3
  • J. D. Vandenbulcke
    • 1
  • J. W. G. Van Acker
    • 1
  • R. G. E. C. Cauwels
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Paediatric Dentistry, PaeCoMeDiS Research ClusterGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Oral Health Research Group ORHE, Faculty of Medicine and PharmacyVUB Vrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Educational Sciences EDWE-LOCI, Faculty of Psychology and Educational SciencesVUB Vrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

Personalised recommendations