For most children with baby teeth, losing a tooth is a big milestone. It’s a right of passage that most every child looks forward to. It often means a visit from the tooth fairy and a surprise under their pillow. It earns them bragging rights on the playground and something to reveal at “show and tell.” But when your teenage child’s tooth is knocked out, it can bring about feelings of despair and fear. Losing a baby tooth verses losing a permanent tooth invokes a completely different reaction and should be considered a dental emergency.
If your child plays contact sports or is prone to falls or accidents, it is highly possible you will encounter a tooth or mouth injury at some point in their sport’s career. Although mouth guards are essential when playing sports and can help prevent tooth and gum injuries, some injuries are inevitable. Knowing what to do in advance can help provide peace of mind for both you and your child, as well as help save their tooth. Below are same basic emergency tips for handling your child’s knocked out tooth.
Step 1: Remain Calm
We know it can be a traumatic experience, but try and remain calm. Your child will be taking their cues from you. If you panic, they will more than likely panic. The key to saving the tooth is remaining calm and taking immediate action.
Step 2: Locate Your Child’s Knocked Out Tooth
Because tooth injuries often happen on the playground or during a ballgame, it can be hard to locate the tooth. When picking up the tooth, avoid touching it by the roots as this could cause permanent damage. Hold the tooth by the crown, rinse it with clean water, and try reinserting it into the socket. Before doing so, have your child rinse their mouth with water to remove any dirt or debris. Once the tooth is inserted, have them gently bite down to hold the tooth in place. If the tooth broke off or cannot be reinserted, place it and any broken pieces in a container of saline solution or milk. Bleeding is generally expected. You can use gauze and light pressure to slow the bleeding.
Step 3: Call Your Pediatric Dentist
When it comes to tooth injuries, time is of the essence. When care is administered in a timely fashion, it can help save your child’s knocked out tooth. As soon as you can, call your pediatric dentist to set up an appointment. Oftentimes, dental offices can provide same-day appointments for dental emergencies, such as a knocked out tooth. To help streamline the process, keep your pediatric dentist’s number programmed into your phone in cases of dental emergencies.
Step 4: Ice Your Child’s Jaw
When your child’s knocked out tooth was caused by impact to the jaw or cheek, it can result in swelling and pain. To help reduce discomfort, you can apply an ice pack to the cheek or outer jaw in 20-minute intervals. Giving them an approved over-the-counter pain reliever can also help control pain and swelling.
Parents of children who frequently play contact sports or participate in more aggressive activities, may benefit from keeping a tooth emergency kit in the car. This kit should include a container for the lost tooth, an ice pack, saline solution, and pain relievers.
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