Dental emergencies can be scary, but they do happen. Trauma to the mouth or teeth can be serious, so it’s important to act fast. When you follow the right steps and seek immediate dental care, in most cases the problem can be corrected.
In the case of a knocked out tooth, what you do in the first seconds and minutes can be the difference in whether or not the tooth can be saved. Here’s what you need to do, step by step.
If a baby tooth gets knocked out: Call your dentist immediately and explain the situation. They will assess the urgency and schedule an appointment. In most cases knocking out a baby tooth is not as serious as knocking out a permanent tooth since baby teeth eventually fall out anyway. But if a baby tooth can be saved, it is usually best to try and do so. Baby teeth serve as place holders for the permanent teeth that will eventually come in. They keep the other teeth in the proper position until the permanent teeth are ready to come in. If the tooth can’t be put back in place, a space maintainer can be used to hold the spot open.
If a permanent tooth gets knocked out: Hold the tooth by the crown only. Avoid touching the root because that can cause damage and jeopardize the chances of saving the tooth. Rinse the tooth in cold water. Place the tooth back into the socket and bite down on clean medical gauze. If the tooth cannot be put back into the socket, place it in a glass of milk or saliva. Call your dentist and make an appointment. If you follow these steps there is a good chance that the tooth will be able to be saved. It is important that the tooth be put back in place as soon as possible and that you don’t allow it to dry out.
What if my child loses a tooth after business hours for the dentist?
If your child knocks out a tooth and your dentist’s office is not open, call anyway and follow the prompts for an after hours emergency. Your case will be handled according to the severity. The dentist or another member of the dental team will contact you with instructions for how to proceed.
What if the tooth is broken?
In some cases the tooth that has been knocked out is also broken. Collect the pieces of the tooth, only touching the crown portion if possible. Soak them in milk or saliva and call your dentist. Broken teeth can sometimes still be saved if treatment is applied right away.
Call 911 for Life Threatening Emergencies
In most cases, knocking out a tooth is not a life threatening emergency. However, if bleeding is severe and uncontrollable or if the child is unconscious, call 911 first instead of your dentist. A true emergency cannot wait until your dentist calls you back.
How to Prevent Dental Trauma
Knocked out teeth are most often sports-related injuries. Wearing a mouthguard when playing sports can protect the teeth from trauma. There are mouthguards that can be purchased and molded to the child’s teeth, but having a custom mouthguard made by your dentist will be more effective.
Custom dental mouthguards are made directly from impressions of the teeth. These fit better for more effective protection. A mouthguard that doesn’t fit properly can cause damage to the teeth and is also less comfortable. The more comfortable the mouthguard is, the more likely the child is to wear it without complaint.
Your Child Knocked Out a Tooth? Contact Orange County Pediatric Dentistry
Has your child knocked out a tooth? Call Orange County Pediatric Dentistry immediately and we will see you as soon as possible. If you are calling after hours, follow the directions to have Dr. Olstein paged. She will call you back to advise you on what to do. By acting quickly you increase the chances that the tooth can be saved.