When Your Child Injures a Tooth

What Happens When Your Child Injures a Tooth?What happens when your child injures a tooth? Here are a few answers based on the situation.

As distressing as it might be for parents, chipped or broken teeth are quite common in kids. These teeth injuries can occur in a wobbly toddler after a hard fall, a sporty preschooler who gets knocked in the mouth by a ball, or a curious youngster who crunches on hard candy. Sleeping children who aggressively grind their teeth, and even cavities that weaken the teeth, can also lead to chips or fractures.

Your child’s dentist can recommend the best method of treatment for a chipped or broken tooth. Treatment can depend on the size and location of the break or crack and sometimes, in the case of very small cracks, no treatment is required.

But what do you do when your child takes a tumble into the edge of a table and knocks out a tooth?

First, examine the child’s mouth to assess the injury. If it seems to be more serious than a knocked-out tooth, consider going to the hospital so a physician can examine the child’s face, mouth and gums. If the injury is limited to a knocked-out or loose tooth, call your dentist.

What if a baby tooth is knocked loose but not completely out?
If a tooth is knocked loose, call your dentist for advice on how to proceed. He or she will likely advise your child to eat a soft diet for the next few days to allow the tooth to re-implant into the jawbone. Depending on the injury’s severity, your dentist may also suggest an x–ray. This is a precautionary measure used to determine whether a nerve or secondary tooth may be damaged.

What if a baby tooth is knocked out completely?
There is no cause for alarm. Losing one or more front baby teeth may give your child a temporary lisp, but no permanent effect on speech development or eating will result.

What if a permanent tooth is knocked out?
Call your dentist immediately for an emergency appointment. It is critical to get your child and his or her tooth to the dentist within 30 minutes of the accident, as it may be possible to successfully re-implant the tooth(Source: Delta Dental Ins).

Keeping the tooth in good condition and receiving care immediately make the odds of successful re-implantation much higher.

Follow these steps before your emergency appointment:

  • Recover the tooth.
  • Rinse it lightly with water to clean off debris, but do not scrub. (Scrubbing can damage root cells that are needed to re-implant the tooth in the jawbone.)
  • Keep the tooth moist. If your child is old enough not to swallow the tooth, it can be placed between his or her cheek and gum. Otherwise, wrap it in a clean cloth or gauze soaked in milk, salt water or tap water to completely cover it(Source: Delta Dental).

Treatment is sometimes different for a baby tooth. Often parents want whatever it takes to “save” a baby tooth that is not of any real consequence other than appearance. We are much more likely to just remove a severely damaged baby tooth rather than do a baby tooth root canal. The main objective is protecting the developing permanent tooth. Small fillings in front baby teeth are more difficult to retain without doing a crown. Having said this, we still try and “fix” fractured baby teeth if we can. The age of the patient can dictate what you are able to do. A chip in the tooth of a two year old may be handled differently than that of a 5 year old. Behavioral considerations, the need for sedation, and how much root is left on the baby tooth will influence the ultimate decision.

Call Dr. Graham E. Farless DDS today for more information, 336-282-2868. Visit his practice online at www.gsodentist.com.