Q: What should I do if my child’s baby tooth is knocked out?
A: Contact your pediatric dentist as soon as possible. The baby tooth should not be replanted because of the potential for subsequent damage to the developing permanent tooth.
Q: What should I do if my child’s permanent tooth is knocked out?
A: Find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water. (Do not scrub or clean it with soap — use only water!) If possible, replace the tooth in the socket immediately and hold it there with clean gauze or a washcloth. If you can’t put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with cold milk, saliva or water. Get to the pediatric dental office immediately. (Call the emergency number if it’s after hours.) The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.
Q: What if a tooth is chipped or fractured?
A: Contact your pediatric dentist immediately. Quick action can save the tooth, prevent infection and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling if the lip also was injured. If you can find the broken tooth fragment, place it in cold milk or water and bring it with you to the dental office.
Q: What about a severe blow to the head or jaw fracture?
A: You need immediate medical attention. A severe head injury can be life threatening. Keep in mind that an emergency medical team might be able to reach you faster than you can get to the hospital.
Q: What if my child has a toothache?
A: Call your pediatric dentist and visit the office promptly. To comfort your child, rinse the mouth with water. Over-the-counter children’s pain medication, dosed according to your child’s weight and age, might ease the symptoms. You may apply a cold compress or ice wrapped in a cloth to the face in the area of the pain, but do not put heat or aspirin on the sore area.
Q: Can dental injuries be prevented?
A: Your child’s risk for dental injuries can be reduced greatly by following a few simple suggestions. First, reduce risk for severe oral injury in sports by wearing protective gear, including a mouth guard. Second, always use a car seat for young children and require seat belts for everyone else in the car. Third, childproof your home to prevent falls and electrical injuries. Regular dental check-ups provide your dentist an opportunity to discuss additional age-appropriate preventive strategies with your child.