Ahhh, childhood. It’s fun and games until someone loses a tooth. Kids can be active indoors and outdoors all year round. Sports, skating parks, bounce house parties, climbing trees, jumping off swings, and even playing PE at school can all cause your child to knock their teeth loose or even knock them out! Dental health is strongly influenced by your child’s family history. Make sure your child visits their pediatric dentist right away if they have experienced trauma to any of their teeth. When disaster strikes, how should you respond?
Check for serious injuries.
To knock a tooth loose (or out), you usually have to deal with a powerful blow to the head, and when it comes to head trauma, the tooth is usually the least of your worries. Symptoms of severe head trauma include:
- Intense bleeding in the ears or nose
- Loss of memory
- misaligned jaws
- A severe headache or earache.
- Feeling nauseated or vomiting
- Double or blurred vision
Call 911 or rush to the emergency room if you observe any of these symptoms. Since severe head trauma tends to get worse before it gets better due to brain swelling, it’s best not to take any chances. Check to see if your child bit himself during the impact. Bite wounds to the tongue, cheeks, and jaw can all require stitches if they’re severe enough. Stitches are typically recommended if the wound is wide enough to not be able to pinch the edges together and if bleeding does not stop after ten minutes of applying pressure.
If your child does not have any of the serious injuries listed above, you can focus on a loose or missing tooth.
What should you do if your child’s tooth has been knocked out completely, is loose, or has been hit hard?
Make an appointment with your child’s dentist immediately. A tooth that has been knocked loose or knocked out completely must be treated as soon as possible. Any patient who has been struck in the mouth should see a pediatric dentist. Your child’s tooth will have a higher chance of successfully being saved or repositioned if you act immediately.
When your child falls and hits their mouth, and their baby teeth are loose, what should you do?
Make sure your child sees their pediatric dentist as soon as possible. X-rays show whether there is damage to the root and nerves of a tooth or the underlying permanent tooth. The dentist might also need to realign the tooth if it has been knocked out of place so that other teeth (especially permanent teeth) do not erupt in the wrong position.
If the tooth is not crooked and your dentist isn’t concerned about the injury, it’s best to keep your child on a diet of soft foods for a few days so the tooth can re-implant itself. Cold foods can also reduce inflammation. You’re allowed to put your kid on an ice cream diet (yes, we’re permitting you).
What if the baby tooth is completely knocked out?
Most of the time, losing a baby tooth is no big deal. Ask your pediatric dentist what he or she recommends. If the permanent tooth is not fully developed at the time the baby tooth falls out, your child might have a slight gap in their smile for a bit longer than their peers. Some pediatric dentists may offer options for replacement if there are esthetic concerns. It is important to have your child evaluated by their pediatric dentist to ensure that there are no issues with their permanent teeth.
A loose permanent tooth due to trauma
If your child damages a permanent tooth, the consequences are much more serious. Have your child seen by a pediatric dentist as soon as possible. If the tooth is loose, crooked, or dangling from the socket, it is an emergency, and the patient needs to be seen immediately. Even if the teeth are still straight and only slightly loose, it is important to have them evaluated by a dentist within an hour. Be sure to follow the dentist’s instructions if he or she prescribes a liquid or soft food diet for your child. This will help the tooth heal and reattach.
What if the permanent tooth is completely knocked out?
You should take your child to the dentist right away. Locate the missing tooth if possible. Avoid damaging the sensitive nerve endings at the root of the tooth when handling it. If it is necessary to rinse the tooth, rinse it with saliva or milk. Water will not help to preserve the tooth. If your child is old enough to not swallow it, the tooth should be carefully reinserted into the socket and held in place with a paper compact until you can get it to the dentist. Otherwise, place it in a cup of milk or saliva. If you see the dentist within thirty minutes of the accident, you have a good chance of having the original tooth reimplanted in your child’s mouth. The original tooth may need to be replaced with a dental implant if you cannot get your child to the dentist within an hour of the accident.
Children lose teeth all the time, so it is a good idea to be prepared. Losing a tooth may only mean a visit from the tooth fairy. It may also mean a trip to the ER. In the event of a loose or missing tooth, the best thing you can do as a parent is to remain calm, rule out any serious injuries, and contact your dentist immediately. By acting promptly, your child’s pediatric dentist will have them smiling again in no time.