It might be an exaggeration to say it's a parents' worst nightmare, but it's pretty far up on the list––your child comes running to you, bleeding from the mouth, completely inconsolable, and missing a tooth. When our kids are panicked, it's hard not to panic ourselves, but if you stay calm and think clearly, you can take control of the situation and we can schedule an emergency appointment at our office to repair the damage.
How to Handle a Knocked Out Baby Tooth
Let's start with a little bit of good news: a knocked out baby tooth is not usually a serious problem. Because baby teeth don't have a long root holding them in place, they're easier to knock out––but when they do come out, they don't have as much potential to cause soft tissue damage.
We don't replace baby teeth that have been knocked out, so you don't need to concern yourself with finding the tooth and cleaning it. Instead, have your child rinse his or her mouth with water, then use a clean washcloth or piece of gauze soaked in cold water as a compress to stop the bleeding and reduce swelling. Have your child bite down on it to apply pressure to the area.
Once your child has calmed down and bleeding is controlled, call our office for an appointment. We'll take a look to make sure there's no damage to the gums; for older children, we may opt to leave the area as-is, but with younger children, we often use a false tooth or space maintainer to keep remaining teeth from shifting into the open space.
How to Handle a Knocked Out Permanent Tooth
When an adult tooth has been knocked out, care is much the same: get your child to calm down and apply a cold compress to stop the bleeding and ease swelling. The next step is to save the tooth that has been knocked out.
To prevent infection, it's important not to touch the root of the tooth once you find it. Instead, grab it by the crown-end. If the tooth has fallen onto the floor, rinse it with milk to remove any dust or debris. (Milk has a similar chemical composition to saliva.)
If your child will cooperate, try to gently push the tooth back into the socket, then have them continue to bite down on the washcloth or gauze to hold the tooth in place until you can make it to our office. When this isn't possible, put the tooth in a cup of milk to bring to us.
Call us to schedule an emergency visit as soon as the situation is under control. With prompt care, it's very likely that the permanent tooth can be reattached without incident.