You know what to do when your child has a scrape, you know how to do the heimlich maneuver, you even know how to check for a concussion, but do you know what to do if your child’s tooth gets knocked out? Dental first aid is a lesser known art, even though dental injuries are just about as common as any other childhood injuries. Let us help you get prepared for when childhood strikes.
When a Tooth is Chipped
The most common dental injury is a chipped front tooth. You may feel a little panic when your child runs in from the back yard with an uneven grill, but don’t worry! There’s something you can do to help. If it is a baby tooth that has been damaged, there may be no repair necessary. First you need to check to see if the root is exposed. This will look like a layered, pinkish spot at the site of damage. Next find out if the tooth is loose. If the tooth wiggles a little, it will probably tighten up on its own, but any worse than that requires the dentist’s attention. Even if the tooth seems fine, if your child develops a fever or complains of pain, they may have an infection and need a root canal. Consult your dentist.
When a Permanent Tooth is Loose
If your child has a tooth knocked loose, maybe when they’re playing sports or careening down the slip n’ slide, you need to take care. If the tooth is displaced, apply gentle pressure to see if you can move it back into place. Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling and call the dentist. He can determine if any permanent damage has been done that may need attention.
When a Tooth is Knocked Out
Sometimes the worst happens and a tooth is knocked completely out of your child’s mouth. This is an injury that requires a trip to the dentist’s office for sure. In order to try and preserve the tooth, locate it immediately. Hold it by the crown, avoiding contact with the root, and gently rinse away dirt and debris with water or milk. The tooth has a good chance of reattaching to the socket if it is replaced within five minutes, or within 60 minutes if it has been soaking in saline or milk. Try to replace the tooth back into the socket yourself to increase the chances of reattachment. If you are unable to do this, take your child and the tooth to the dentist right away and their staff can help you.
Dental emergencies are some of the worst experiences for parents and kids. They are often painful and messy, but cooler heads will prevail. Knowing what to do ahead of time will help you to stay calm and minimize the damage. It will also help your child feel better to see that you are capable of helping them.