If your child prematurely loses a baby tooth, there's no need to try to replace it. But if a permanent tooth is dislodged, it's a dental emergency. Permanent teeth have the best chance of survival if replaced within 15 minutes. So it's important to act quickly and follow the guidelines below.
Many other dental injuries are less urgent, but may need to be looked at by a dentist. Most dental injuries in preschool and school-age kids occur from falls, while dental injuries in teens are often sports related.
What to Do
If a baby, toddler, or young child injures the gums or baby teeth:
- Apply pressure to the area (if it's bleeding) with a piece of cold, wet gauze. If your child is old enough to follow directions, ask him or her to bite down on the gauze.
- Offer an ice pop to suck on to reduce swelling, or hold an ice-pack wrapped in a washcloth to the cheek.
- Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen as needed for pain.
- Call a dentist.
- Watch for swelling of the gums, pain, fever, or a change in the color of the tooth.
If a permanent tooth is chipped or broken:
- Collect all pieces of the tooth.
- Rinse the mouth with warm water.
- Call a dentist right away to schedule a visit.
Seek Medical Care
If a Permanent Tooth Is Knocked Out:
Go to the dentist or emergency room right away after following these steps:
- Find the tooth. Call a dentist or emergency room right away if you aren't sure if it's a permanent tooth (baby teeth have smooth edges).
- Hold the tooth by the crown (the "chewing" end of the tooth) — not the root.
- Place the tooth in a balanced salt solution (a commercially available sterile product), if you have it. If not, place the tooth in a container of milk or your child's saliva. You also can place the tooth between your lower lip and gum. Do not store it in tap water.
- For older kids and teens, try placing the tooth back in the socket without touching the root. Have your child bite down on gauze to help keep it in place.
- If the tooth is stored in a container (rather than back in the socket), have your child bite down on a gauze pad or handkerchief to relieve bleeding and pain.
Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014
|American Dental Association (ADA) The ADA provides information for dental patients and consumers.|
|American Academy of Periodontology The American Academy of Periodontology provides information for consumers and dental patients about gum disease and oral health.|
|MouthPower This site was created by the Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore, Maryland. Through games and other activities, kids can learn how to take care of their teeth and mouth.|
|Healthy Teeth Produced by dentists, Healthy Teeth is designed for elementary-age students curious about oral health.|
|How Do I Care for My Baby's Teeth? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|What Are Tooth Preservation Kits? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Keeping Your Child's Teeth Healthy Here are the basics about how to care for your child's teeth - and when.|
|Mouth and Teeth Our mouth and teeth play an important role in our daily lives. Here's a course on the basics - including common problems of the mouth and teeth.|
|A to Z: Tooth Injury, Primary A primary tooth injury is an injury or damage to a child's primary (or "baby") tooth.|
|A to Z: Tooth Injury, Secondary Secondary tooth injuries are injuries or damage to secondary or permanent teeth (also called "adult" teeth).|
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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