Dental Emergencies: Tooth Injuries

A child losing a baby tooth is considered to be a rite of passage, but a child, teen, or adult losing a permanent tooth is considered a dental emergency. If you or someone you know ever loses a permanent tooth, a dentist may be able to save the tooth if it’s replaced within about an hour. Learn what to do when someone is involved in an accident and dislodges a permanent tooth.

Babies, Toddlers and Young Children Tooth Injuries

If the gums or baby teeth are injured, use a piece of cold, wet gauze to apply pressure to the affected area. If the child is capable of following directions, have him bite down on the gauze. Reduce swelling with an ice pop or an icepack wrapped in a clean washcloth and held to the cheek. Use ibuprofen or acetaminophen (according to package and dosage directions) to help ease the pain if needed after you call a dentist to schedule an appointment. In the meantime, you’ll want to keep an eye out for signs of fever, pain, inflammation or tooth discoloration.

For broken or chipped permanent teeth, gather as many pieces of the tooth as possible and rinse the child’s mouth out with warm water. Contact the child’s dentist and make an appointment for the next available appointment.

Dislodged Permanent Tooth

Take your child to an urgent care dental clinic as soon as possible if a permanent tooth is knocked out (if it’s late and your dentist is not open you may consider going to the emergency room, although the doctors will likely only be able to treat the bleeding and control the pain; they probably will be unable to replace the tooth).

If possible, find the tooth and bring it along with you, holding it by the “chewing end” rather than the root. To preserve the tooth, place it in a solution of water with a pinch of table salt or a container of milk. For older kids, teens, or even adults, you can attempt to place the tooth back in the socket, taking care that you don’t touch the root of the tooth.

If the tooth is dirty, rinse it with water prior to placing it back in the mouth. Have the person bite down on gauze to keep the tooth in place. If the tooth has to be stored in a container, add a little bit of milk or some water with a pinch of table salt, then put gauze or a clean handkerchief or towel in the person’s mouth to slow the bleeding on your way to the dentist. 

Act quickly and keep calm if your child ever loses a permanent tooth. Follow the above steps and get to the dentist as soon as possible to help your child keep his or her smile.