Children are rambunctious by nature. They’re inquisitive, energetic, and aren’t always very careful. That combination sometimes results in some impressive injuries, including the occasional tooth getting knocked around. But what if the tooth isn’t just loose? What if it’s knocked out completely? What should you do?
Assess the Injury
The first thing to do is to assess the injury. Was the knocked-out tooth a baby tooth or a permanent tooth? The answer influences how serious the injury is. That’s not the only thing to look at though. Look beyond just the tooth. Does your child have other injuries? If the injuries extend to the mouth, gums, and face, consider taking them to the hospital. If the injury is limited to the tooth, a visit to the dentist may be all that is needed.
For Baby Teeth
If the knocked-out tooth is a baby tooth, that is good news. Remember that baby teeth are going to fall out and be replaced by permanent teeth. As such, your child shouldn’t experience permanent changes to speech or eating capabilities. A visit to the dentist will be in order. Depending on the tooth that was lost and how early it was lost, the dentist may want your child to have a space maintainer. Teeth tend to move around. A space maintainer will prevent the surrounding teeth from closing up the gap where the permanent tooth is meant to grow.
For Permanent Teeth
A permanent tooth being knocked out is a bit of a different story. This warrants an emergency dental appointment, and fast. If you can get your child and their knocked-out tooth to a dentist within 20 minutes, the dentist may be able to successfully reimplant the tooth. Do your best to keep the tooth in good condition. Gently rinse it with water (no scrubbing) and keep it moist on the way to the dentist. You can do this by placing it in a clean cloth or gauze and soaking it in tap water, milk, or salt water. Alternatively, if your child is old enough not to swallow the tooth, you can place it in their mouth between their cheek and gum until you arrive at the dentist.
Having a tooth knocked out is understandably quite painful. Your child may be scared and confused as well. Do your best to remain calm as you assess their injury and help them. Freaking out shows them that something is very wrong. Staying calm gives them something to anchor onto. Keeping your cool as you help and comfort them is one of the best things you can do when your child knocks out a tooth.
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