Accidents happen, especially with active kids. According to the American Association of Endodontics, over 5 million teeth are knocked out in kids and adults every year. Whether they fall while running on the playground or get hit with a bat or ball during little league practice, trauma to the mouth can cause your child’s tooth to get chipped or knocked out. Knowing how to handle this type of emergency will enable you to keep your cool and take the right steps if it ever happens to your child.
Even If It’s a Baby Tooth, Go See the Dentist
It may not seem like a big deal if your child knocks out a baby tooth since they are going to fall out anyway, but it’s still important to see the dentist if this happens. Losing a baby tooth too soon can allow the other adult teeth that come in to take over the space, leaving no room for the adult tooth that eventually erupts and replaces the knocked-out tooth. To keep this from happening, a dentist can insert a space maintainer to keep the other teeth out of the space until the new tooth comes in.
Your child’s dentist will also want to see if there was any other damage to the mouth. It is possible that one or more of your child’s other baby teeth were pushed down into the gums instead of being knocked out when the trauma occurred. This situation can damage the adult teeth that haven’t emerged yet, causing long-term issues.
A Knocked-Out Adult Tooth Requires Immediate Attention
When a permanent tooth gets knocked out, do your best to find it. If you locate it, be careful not to touch the root when you pick it up. Put it in a container of milk and take it with you to the dentist. If your child has braces, you should still see the dentist first and then contact your orthodontist to make any necessary repairs to your appliances.
To increase your chances of saving the tooth, get to the dentist as soon as possible. He or she will reinsert the tooth if it’s still viable and attach it to the teeth on either side with a thin plastic strip or wire to hold it in place. After several weeks, the dentist will want to see if the tooth has reattached itself to the bone.
If an Adult Tooth Can’t Be Found or Saved
Losing the adult tooth or having it not reattach doesn’t mean your child will have a gap in his or her smile forever. The dentist can replace the tooth with a bridge or implant. Bridges have false teeth on them and are attached to the teeth on either side to keep them in place. Implants start with a small metal post inserted into the jawbone; once the bone attaches to the post, it is topped with a crown that looks like a natural tooth. Both of these replacements are treated just like the rest of the teeth and require regular brushing, flossing, and dental checkups.
Losing a tooth can be traumatic for your child, and you, but an immediate trip to the dentist – and the orthodontist if your child has braces – will get your child’s smile back to normal before you know it. If you have a dental or orthodontic emergency, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (843) 4-BRACES for assistance.