You sit in the stands, cheering your child on during his Little League playoff game. You brace yourself as the opponent’s best batter steps up to the plate and hits a line drive that heads right toward your child positioned at shortstop. Your child’s glove goes up just a second too late and you wince as the hard hit ball slams into his mouth. Seconds later, when you join his coach down on the field, you hear the words, “He’s okay, but his tooth was knocked out.” You panic as you realize that you have no idea how to handle a permanent tooth lost to injury or trauma. This scenario is not uncommon; many children lose teeth due to sports-related injuries.
What should I do after my child’s tooth is knocked out?
When a child loses a permanent tooth as the result of injury, it can be a traumatic experience for both the child and the parent. Consider the following tips for handling this dental emergency:
- Do comfort your child. First thing’s first: your child will likely need a lot of comfort and reassuring after suffering such a serious injury. While comforting your child, make sure that you’re not panicking. It’s important that both you and your child stay calm so that you can think clearly about the steps that need to be taken.
- Don’t touch the tooth root. After comforting your child, locate the dislodged tooth as quickly as possible. When you find it, pick it up gently and avoid touching the root of the tooth.
- Do control the bleeding. When a tooth is lost due to injury, there’s often a great deal of bleeding in the mouth. In order to control the bleeding, have your child hold a piece of gauze over the socket and apply pressure.
- Don’t scrub the tooth. If the dislodged tooth fell on the ground, your instinct might be to clean it thoroughly. However, scrubbing a tooth– and particularly removing pieces of attached tissue– can reduce its chances of reattaching.
- Do rinse the tooth with milk. It’s okay, however, to give the tooth a quick rinse with some milk. Just don’t pick at or scrub it.
- Don’t wrap the tooth up. It might be tempting to wrap the rinsed tooth up in a paper towel, but doing so can dry it out. Instead, gently try to replace the tooth in your child’s socket. If that doesn’t work, don’t force it; instead, place the tooth in a bowl of milk or salt water.
- Do make a dentist appointment. Call your dentist right away following any tooth loss due to injury. When you bring your child to his appointment, bring the dislodged tooth– still in the container of milk or salt water– along with you.
What if the tooth won’t reattach?
Sometimes, despite the dentist’s best efforts, a dislodged tooth simply won’t reattach. Rest assured: this doesn’t meant that your child is doomed to a life with a gap-toothed grin. There are cosmetic dentistry options available to fill the gap, including:
- A dental implant. A dental implant is a titanium post that serves as an artificial tooth root. It is surgically implanted into the jaw. Then, a false tooth is attached to the implant.
- A dental bridge. A dental bridge consists of two crowns on either side of the missing tooth; these crowns serve as anchors. A false tooth then fills the gap between the two anchor teeth.
Seeing your child lose a tooth due to injury is often scary for parents. However, knowing how to respond when this dental emergency occurs can mean the difference between your child keeping his natural tooth and the need for dental restoration. If you’d like to learn more about this topic, contact us today.