A lost tooth can happen unexpectedly if your child falls down, gets hit playing sports, or sustains other trauma to the mouth. This can be a frightening scenario for both you and your child, especially because there may be pain and blood when a tooth is knocked out traumatically. Knowing what steps to take beforehand can help you stay calm, assess the situation, and take appropriate action.
1. Go to the Dentist as Soon as Possible
The traumatic loss of a permanent tooth is a dental emergency that requires an urgent trip to the dentist. It may be possible to restore the tooth, but only if dental care is provided within a certain time frame. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that the tooth can be saved.
The traumatic loss of a baby tooth may not be as serious. Often, it requires no intervention. Nevertheless, you should still take your child to see the dentist as soon as possible to rule out serious injury.
2. Handle the Tooth Carefully
Do not touch the tooth roots. You could damage the cells that the tooth needs to be restored to its socket. Only handle the crown of the tooth, which is the part that sticks up in the mouth.
3. Clean Off the Tooth
You can rinse the tooth off with milk if it is dirty. Do not use tap water and avoid scrubbing the tooth as either can damage the root cells.
4. Try to Put the Tooth Back in Place
Admittedly, this can be a challenge if your child is crying and hysterical. However, if you can put the tooth back in its socket, it helps to protect the root cells, thus increasing the chances that the tooth might be saved. Be gentle in the attempt and if you cannot easily replace the tooth, do not try to force it.
5. Keep the Tooth Wet
If the tooth cannot be replaced in the socket, you must be careful not to let it dry out. This can be tricky, as you should not use tap water to keep it wet. If your child is old enough to avoid swallowing the tooth, you can instruct him or her to hold it in the cheek next to the gums, where the saliva will keep it moist. Otherwise, you can fill a small, watertight, re-closeable container with milk and keep the tooth in it on the way to the dentist.
6. Keep the Number of an Emergency Dentist
Some dentists' offices deal only with emergencies. If you don't have an emergency dentist, your regular dentist will probably move your child to the front of the line for a dental emergency such as a knocked-out tooth. In either case, you should know whom to call in case of a lost tooth and let the staff know that you are coming. Through all this, try to stay calm. Your child is likely to take cues from you, so keeping calm yourself can help defuse the situation and improve your child's prognosis. Contact the Pediatric Dental Group for emergency procedures as well as routine services for your child.