If your child’s tooth or teeth gets knocked out, it’s stressful and even scary. Fast action is essential. Knowing what to do can limit tooth damage, minimize pain, and also reduce the extent of dental treatment needed to save your child’s smile.
Baby Tooth Knocked Out or Loose? Chipped?
Children are prone to getting teeth knocked out, bumped, or loosened because of how active they are. As infants learn to walk, it’s not uncommon for them to fall and hit their mouths on something. Although severe damage is rare, there’s always a chance of the bump to their mouth, causing a chipped or broken tooth.
The older — and more active — your child gets, the higher the chances are for them to knock out an entire tooth.
Toddler’s Front Teeth Knocked Out: What to Do
If your toddler gets their teeth knocked out, act quickly. Usually, you need to see our pediatric dentist within the next 1-2 hours. First, look around for the tooth or broken off fragment. If you can find it, great! If not, it’s not the end of the world.
After you locate the tooth, you have a couple of options:
1) You can store the tooth in a sealed container or zip-top bag, ensuring you completely submerge the entire tooth in liquid. The best options are milk, contact solution, or saline. If none of those are available, you can use tap water with a pinch of salt.
2) If the tooth is completely knocked out in one piece (with the root still attached), you can attempt to place it back into the socket. However, this second option isn’t going to be appropriate if you’re dealing with a squirmy toddler who might swallow their tooth or a baby tooth where the root is already starting to shrink/resorb. If that’s the case, go back to option one.
Call our office immediately, so that we can arrange to see you at the office or provide instructions on what to do at home. Depending on the severity of the fracture we may be able to talk you through home care and see you within the next few days.
Since tooth trauma can knock teeth loose, it’s usually necessary to monitor them over the next weeks and months. Signs of abscesses or a dying nerve may not become evident until quite sometime later. If they do, we may opt to monitor, treat, or remove the baby tooth so that it doesn’t damage the adult one underneath.
When A Permanent Tooth is Knocked Out Or Loose
When it comes to permanent teeth knocked out, we have to think about the future of your child’s smile. They rely on permanent teeth to speak and chew with, so losing one can seriously alter their day-to-day activities (not to mention their confidence.) Plus, the extra space that’s created when you lose an adult tooth can lead to orthodontic complications.
Any time you chip, knock out or loosen an adult tooth, you need to call us. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your young child, teen, or yourself. Treating loose and knocked out permanent teeth requires timely attention to avoid serious side effects.
First, locate the tooth. If it’s a fragment, follow the directions listed in the previous section about how to store it properly. Get it to our office within the next hour or two to see if Dr. Bestandji can bond the broken piece back to your tooth. If it’s a whole tooth with the root still intact, gently rinse off any debris, taking care not to touch or scrub the root surface. Only handle it by the crown (the part that’s visible in your mouth.) At this point you have one of two options:
1) Store the tooth in a sealed container (with milk or saline covering the entire surface, as instructed in the section above.)
2) Attempt to reinsert the tooth root back into the socket. Do not force it. If the tooth will not go in, revert to step one.
Once you get to the Canal Vista Family Dental office, Dr. Bestandji will evaluate the extent of damage and discuss the best treatment plan. For teeth knocked out, we can sometimes reinsert them and use an adjacent tooth as a splint, to stabilize the tooth as it reintegrates with your bone.
Otherwise, it may be necessary to perform a perform a root canal on the tooth, to prevent losing it altogether. Since a knocked-out tooth may no longer have a vital blood supply, it could abscess and gradually die. Being proactive with endodontic treatment can avoid total tooth loss and having to replace your knocked out tooth with something else (like an implant or bridge.)
Complications From Knocked Out Teeth
Some people wonder why it’s important to treat or replace a knocked out baby tooth if their child is going to eventually lose it anyway. And that’s a very valid concern!
Ultimately, your child’s baby tooth plays an important role in their orofacial development and permanent tooth erupt. Since they guide the eruption position for their future replacement, losing a baby tooth too early can cause changes in bone and biting patterns. It may be that your child’s jaw doesn’t form properly, or the adult tooth underneath becomes wedged in place, since there’s no longer a placeholder ensuring room to erupt. A few years down the road, orthodontic treatment may be necessary.
Healthy Teeth for Life
By preserving your child’s “first” smile, you can give them a head start on better oral health in adulthood.
At Canal Vista Family Dental, we offer comprehensive family dentistry. We’re here to help you avoid — and manage — common dental emergencies like knocked-out teeth.
If your child or teen is involved in athletic activities, we highly encourage you to have them fitted with a custom mouthguard. Athletic mouthguards work against both knocked out teeth and concussions.
Call us today to learn more.