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OMG! He Knocked Out His Tooth!

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First, don't panic. Second, read on!

child with missing tooth

Dr. Gaby Cosgrove:If your child is 6 or under, chances are that if his/her front tooth gets knocked out, it will be a primary tooth (a.k.a.a baby tooth). Aside from calming the child from the trauma of the accident, there's nothing you can do, because you can't save the tooth. Don't worry, though: A permanent tooth will still erupt in time, as long as the tooth bud under the gum has not been damaged. If the accident is traumatic, it's important to get to a dentist to have the area examined, but it's not an emergency that needs immediate attention.

On the other hand, if your child is 6 or older and a front tooth gets knocked out (or "avulsed," as we dentists call it), follow these guidelines:

• Once you've calmed down your child, it's essential to find the tooth that has been knocked out. If it's in one piece, you're in luck -- it could be reimplanted! If it's broken and in pieces, however, it cannot.

• Call your dentist immediately, because time is of the essence.

• Once you find the tooth, only handle it by the top part (the crown). Try not to touch the root. Gently rinse off the tooth to remove any large particles; saline solution or saliva are the best cleansers. Do NOT scrub the tooth or wipe it off!If everything looks clean, the tooth can and should be replaced into the socket immediately. (This is the best-case scenario.) Once you see your dentist, she/he will make sure it has been replaced properly.

• If there's too much of a mess, store the tooth in a cup of milk and head straight to the dentist with it. The chances of success in reimplanting a tooth are best up to 60 minutes after avulsion.

Once you get to the dentist's office, the tooth will be replaced into the socket and most likely bonded to the adjacent teeth for anchorage. The success of this reimplantation will be seen in time. The tooth may still have future problems that need to be monitored by your dentist very carefully.

Bottom line:
If your child participates in sports activities, he/she should wear a sports mouthguard! If your child has permanent teeth, your dentist can make you a custom guard. If your child still has primary teeth, you can purchase a prefabricated mouthguard at any sporting-goods store. Not only will this protect your child's smile, it will teach him/her good habits for the future!

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
twinsmomof4 March 8, 2010, 9:18 AM

We had a situation at the ballpark whereby a 12 year old lost his front tooth. The ball bounced off the fence and hit him in the face. Parents panicked and asked everyone what to do. I told them to call a particular dentist emergency line. He has 60 minutes. rinse the tooth with water and place it back in his mouth between the gum and cheek. Take special care NOT to swallow it. The dentist put the tooth back in and he wore an appliance to hold it in. That was several years ago and the tooth is fine. He still goes out of is way at the ballpark to thank me for being there that day.

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