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What to Do When Your Child Loses a Tooth

All children lose their baby teeth eventually, but some kids might end up losing at least one of their permanent teeth. Accidents and unforeseen events happen, and a blow to the mouth can lead to the tooth being knocked free. It’s important to not just let these things slide, however, as a child’s adult tooth will be integral to ensuring the proper alignment of the other teeth as they grow in and as their jaw settles. Here are the steps to take immediately after your child has a tooth knocked out.

Locate the Tooth

Dentists call a broken permanent tooth an “avulsed” tooth. If your child loses a permanent tooth, you should find it as quickly as possible. Give the avulsed tooth a quick rinse if it is a bit dirty, and put it back in the socket. Keeping the tooth in the socket while you wait for your dentist can improve the chances that a specialist is able to reattach the tooth properly. While holding it in place is not a permanent fix, it will vastly increase the chances of the tooth surviving to be replanted by the dentist.

Store the Tooth

Sometimes the tooth won’t fit back into place immediately upon being knocked free. This can happen due to an irregular shape in the gum injury or even that it hurts your child too much to hold the tooth in the wound. When this happens, you can still save the tooth for replanting. Find the tooth and, like before, give it a quick rinse. Do not scrub it, as you may damage the nerves inside or draw out the blood from inside the tooth. For this reason, it is better to pick up the tooth by its crown rather than the root area. After you’ve rinsed it, place the tooth in a solution of sterile saline, milk, or coconut milk. Any of these options can help to preserve the tooth in ways that liquids like water will not. The tooth does need to go back into the socket before a clot forms in the hole and makes reinsertion much harder. 

Dentures

In some cases, the tooth is damaged beyond saving, or it did not live long enough outside of the mouth to be replanted. This is not the end, however. As mentioned, that empty space left by the vacant tooth can allow the other teeth to become misaligned if not filled. One common method to prevent this is the use of partial dentures. Partial dentures are anchored to a retainer-like device to hold in place a fake replacement for one or more missing teeth. Partial dentures are easily removable for eating if desired, but should be left in the majority of the time. Regular appointments should be made with an orthodontist, as well, to ensure that the denture fits properly and that the other teeth don’t shift out of place.

Dental Implants

If you feel that your child won’t be able to take proper care of a partial denture, or if you want a more permanent solution, then dental implants are the best alternative. Dental implants are made to look and feel just like the real teeth around it, anchored to the jaw with a titanium root. For all intents and purposes, dental implants look and act like real teeth. The care regimen for them is the same as other teeth (brush and floss.) If your child is going to need orthodontics, however, it would be best to wait until after their teeth are aligned the way you want them permanently before getting the implant.

Whether you witnessed the loss of the tooth or your child comes home with a bleeding mouth, it is important to remain calm in this situation. Your first instinct may be reactionary, but a cool head will help you handle the situation. Your child might be quite worked up over the loss of the tooth depending on their age, and seeing you calm can help them remain so as well. If you follow the tips above and get in touch with a qualified emergency dentist, there is a chance for reattaching the missing tooth or getting it replaced entirely.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.
Tim Esterdahl

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