When a frantic parent calls our office because their child has knocked a tooth out, the first thing we ask is whether it was a permanent or baby tooth because the situations are handled very differently.
Knocked Out Baby Tooth
A child knocking out a baby tooth is a terrible situation, but it’s usually nowhere near as severe as knocking out a permanent tooth. They should still come into the office for an exam and x-rays to check the surrounding teeth and unerupted permanent teeth, but in most cases no treatment is necessary. Sometimes a spacer will need to be placed to prevent the teeth from shifting and closing the space that the permanent tooth will eventually erupt into.
If the knocked out tooth is in the front and the parents are concerned about the appearance, an appliance called a “pedo-partial” can be placed. It’s basically a denture with a fake tooth that is cemented into place until the permanent tooth is ready to erupt. Most parents do not opt for such an appliance because it’s very expensive and not covered by insurance.
If your child has knocked out a baby tooth, call our office and we will work you into the schedule. In the meantime, try to find the tooth to ensure your child has not accidentally inhaled it. If you think he or she has inhaled it, call your pediatrician or go to an emergency room for an x-ray. You can bring the tooth with you to the dentist appointment, but do not try to put it back into the socket because you could inadvertently damage the permanent tooth. You can control the bleeding by applying light pressure with gauze, and you may give your child whatever over the counter pain reliever you prefer.
Knocked Out Permanent Tooth
If your child has knocked out a permanent tooth, he or she needs to be seen by the dentist immediately. You need to locate the tooth and follow these steps precisely:
- Gently hold the tooth by the crown, not the root, and rinse it off with plain water. Do not scrub it.
- Either re-insert it back into the socket and hold it in place with gauze, or place it in a glass of milk to transport it to our office.
- Call us immediately because time is of the essence to save the tooth. If it’s after hours, our voicemail will give you the phone number of the on call doctor.
- If you cannot locate the tooth and think your child may have inhaled it, call their pediatrician or go to the emergency room for an x-ray.
Over the counter pain relievers are fine to use, and you can apply ice for any facial swelling. The eventual treatment may include anything from a root canal and temporary splint to a porcelain crown or implant.