by Dr. Michael Letham
Dental Emergency: What to Do With a Knocked-Out Baby Tooth
Most parents panic when they see their child crying with a bloody mouth and a tooth in their hand. But if you know exactly what to do during this specific situation, permanent damage to your kids’ dental health can be prevented.
If you haven’t encountered such a situation before, a reputable after hours dentist shares this step-by-step guide that will enlighten you about what to do if your child’s baby tooth suddenly gets knocked out.
3 Crucial Steps to Take When Your Child’s Baby Tooth Gets Avulsed
Step 1: Find the baby tooth
Once you have determined that your child’s baby tooth got knocked out, you must find it to rule out possible aspiration. Make sure that he did not accidentally swallow or breathe it in. This can get lodged in his throat or airway, which can lead to difficulty breathing. So if you can’t find the tooth and your child appears to be choking, bring him to the nearest hospital or clinic immediately.
But if you found the tooth, proceed to the next step.
Step 2: Keep the tooth (don’t try to re-implant it)
Unlike knocked-out permanent teeth that must be put back ASAP, re-implanting baby teeth is not advised. An attempt to put it back can damage the nerve and the permanent tooth that is developing underneath, especially if it is erupting already.
What you can do as a parent is making a dental appointment immediately, and make sure to bring the avulsed tooth with you. The emergency dentist will have to inspect it, making sure that no fragment is left in your child’s gums, which can lead to further issues like a toothache, abscess or infection.
Step 3: Head to the nearest dental clinic
Even if the trauma is minor or it seems like no treatment is required, it is highly recommended that you visit an emergency dentist immediately after your child’s baby tooth has been knocked out.
Your child needs to undergo a dental exam and X-ray to make sure that the surrounding teeth and the nerves are healthy, along with the erupting permanent tooth. This will also help determine if there are tooth fragments left, which can make the permanent tooth erupt crooked.
To prevent the remaining teeth from shifting and closing the space where the permanent tooth must erupt into, the emergency dentist may need to place a spacer to keep the area open. This metal dental appliance is also important for guiding in permanent teeth, especially when the knocked-out tooth was a molar.
Preventing a Knocked-Out Baby Tooth
By implementing precautionary measures, dental injuries that lead to a knocked-out baby tooth can be avoided. These include childproofing your entire home by installing gates at the stairs and putting pads on all sharp edges. Also, keep his environment free of any debris.
If your child is already biking or playing sports at a young age, make sure that he always wears a helmet and mouth guard. These protective gears are not too expensive and can prevent dental injuries. You can buy the helmet from reputable sports retail stores. But for the mouth guard, it is highly recommended that you ask your emergency dentist to fit your child with one.
Still, maintaining watchfulness is the best way to prevent dental emergencies. This means that even if your house is child-proofed and you let your boy wear protective gear, you must always keep an eye on what he is doing. Remember that it only takes a second for your kid to trip over his toys, fall, or put any object in his mouth.
Witnessing your child lose his baby tooth by being knocked out is heartbreaking, but knowing what to do during dental emergencies will prevent further damage. Even if the baby tooth can’t be saved, experienced emergency dentists will surely provide you with the most appropriate solution to make sure that the permanent tooth that will erupt soon is healthy.
So don’t forget to have a reputable emergency dentist you can easily call when such dental emergencies happen.
Dr. Michael Letham is the owner and dentist at 24/7 Dental and Bayside Smiles. He graduated from Sydney University in 2000 with Honours, receiving the R Morse Withycombe Prize for Proficiency in Clinical Periodontics (gum treatment). Striving to provide a modern, holistic approach to dental care that is tailored to each individual’s requirements, Mike’s focus is on being thorough and meticulous whilst being caring and compassionate.-