My child's tooth got knocked out! What should I do?

Posted 4/2/24

(BPT) - At this time of year, kids are itching to shake off winter's cabin fever and get outside. Spring sports are in session, and kids are heading off to summer camp, riding their bikes with …

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My child's tooth got knocked out! What should I do?

Posted

(BPT) - At this time of year, kids are itching to shake off winter's cabin fever and get outside. Spring sports are in session, and kids are heading off to summer camp, riding their bikes with friends, or just exploring the great outdoors.

Along with the fun and adventure, every parent knows this is also the season of skinned knees, bumps and bruises. Some parents will say that it's not summer without a trip to the ER, and most households have a first aid kit stocked with bandages and antiseptic spray. A little TLC after a minor mishap and your child is good to go.

There is one childhood injury that calls for a different treatment process than parents might be accustomed to — a child’s tooth getting knocked out. The image of your child walking, dazed, into the kitchen, carrying his or her tooth, perhaps bleeding, can strike fear into parents. A skinned knee is one thing, but the loss of a tooth can seem much more serious.

The first thing to do, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, is take a deep breath. Stay calm. You've got this, and the big authority on little teeth has got you. Here's what Dr. Scott Cashion, President of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, says to do when your child's tooth gets knocked out:

For baby teeth:

If it's a baby tooth, give your child some TLC. This isn't an emergency situation.

Have your child rinse out their mouth with cool water. No need to put the tooth back in the socket; in fact, that can damage the growing permanent tooth. Wrap it up for the tooth fairy or toss it.

For permanent teeth:

This requires quick, careful action, says Dr. Cashion. The goal here is to save the tooth. But don't worry. Your pediatric dentist is trained for emergencies like this. Until you get to their office, here's what to do:

Control any bleeding. Ensure your child is positioned so he or she will not choke. Place a wet cloth into the mouth to control the bleeding and apply gentle pressure.

Locate the tooth. If you can't find it, it might be pushed up into the gum.

Don't handle the tooth by its roots. If you have rubber or medical gloves in your first aid kit, this is the time to put them on.

Rinse the tooth gently with water. Don't scrub it or use antiseptic.

Put the tooth in a small plastic bag with some milk. Yes, milk. Not water! Milk enzymes can help preserve the root and keep it "alive." Place the bag into a cup of ice.

Call your dentist and let them know you have an emergency and are on your way. If it's after hours or on the weekend, contact an emergency dentist in your area. It's wise to have the number of an after-hours or emergency pediatric dentist handy on your fridge, before you need it.

If you aren’t sure whether it’s a baby tooth or permanent tooth, follow the steps above for permanent teeth, and place it in milk rather than reinserting.

Ideally, try to get your child into the dentist's chair within 30 minutes of the accident. If this isn't possible, get there as soon as you can. Your dentist knows what to do. For more information or to find a pediatric dentist near you, visit mychildrensteeth.org.