Whether your child has knocked out an adult tooth or a baby tooth, your first instinct is likely to panic. Take a deep breath—your child is probably going to be hysterical, or at least distraught, when they come to you with a bloody mouth and tooth in hand. It’s your job to be the calm one. Read the steps below to know what to do.
Find the Knocked Out Tooth
If your child brought the tooth to you, you're already one step ahead of most. The reason that locating the knocked out tooth is so important is because it’s easy for a tooth to be accidentally breathed into your child’s airway. If you can’t find the tooth, go ahead and take your child into the dentist for an evaluation to avoid choking. This is the case for both baby and adult teeth that are knocked out.
What to Do When Your Child Knocks Out a Baby Tooth
After locating the tooth, or taking your child to the dentist, you have two options when it comes to knocked out baby teeth.
1. Get rid of the tooth. If the tooth was already loose, the permanent tooth is likely already coming in, so there isn't anything to be done in the meantime. So go ahead and welcome that tooth fairy visit. Always remember that a visit to the dentist can offer total assurance that everything is fine with your child's knocked out tooth.
2. Have the tooth reattached. This is only beneficial in certain circumstances—if you child is only three or four years old, for example. You’ll want to discuss the risks and benefits with your dentist. Typically reattaching baby teeth is not recommended, as it can cause damage to the developing adult teeth underneath. As always, consult with your dentist to determine the best course of action.
What to Do If Your Child Knocks Out a Permanent Tooth
As with knocked out baby teeth, the first step is locating the tooth. From here, the goal is to successfully reattach the tooth so that it can return to normal function. Proper handling of your child’s tooth is critical during the time it spends outside of the mouth. Here’s what you’ll want to do after locating the knocked out permanent tooth.
1. Rinse the tooth extremely gently with tap water, saliva, or saline solution. Absolutely do not scrub the root of the tooth, the part normally hidden below your gums. You may think scrubbing is important in getting all the germs off, but doing this may cause you to scrub away the periodontal ligament or the cementum, which are essential to holding the tooth in the socket. Scrubbing them away lessens the chances of the tooth being able to permanently reattach itself. Soap and chemicals are damaging to the cells remaining on the tooth and will likely make reattaching the tooth impossible.
2. Attempt putting the tooth gently back in the socket. There are many reasons why this may not be a viable option. The tooth may be fractured, you may have doubts about how to put it back in, you may be unwilling to reattach it on your own, etc. If you’re not sure, it’s best not to try reattaching the tooth on your own and you can move onto step 3.
3. Put the tooth into a suitable solution to keep it healthy. You must keep the tooth moist. There are a number of solutions that will work, and some better than others. The very best place to temporarily store a knocked out tooth is in a balanced salt solution. The next best location to store the tooth is in milk because of the biological compatibility and low bacteria count. Avoid storing the tooth in water or your mouth, these will likely kill the periodontal ligament cells found in the root of the tooth.
4. Go to the dentist.Your dentist will be able to determine if your child’s tooth is in an acceptable condition to return to full function. If the tooth is good, your dentist will take some x-rays to determine optimum healing, and then will splint the tooth to the teeth next to it for support and immobilization. The amount of time the tooth has been out of your mouth will affect the preparation process of the tooth before reattaching. If the tooth is not good and cannot be reattached, your dentist will go over bridge options with you.
If you have any specific questions about dealing with a knocked out tooth, or if you’d like to seek further dental help, get in touch with us today.