First Aid for Your Child’s Tooth Injury
Nearly half of all children suffer a tooth injury during childhood, most often from falls, traffic accidents, fighting and sports. Taking immediate action can help lead to a better outcome after treatment. Be prepared to tell us how and when the injury occurred. After Dr. Jared examines your child, he may recommend imaging, if necessary, to determine the extent of the injury and develop a treatment plan.
Treatment varies depending on whether the injury involves a primary tooth or a permanent tooth. Loose or dislocated permanent teeth are always emergency situations. Here are some of the most common childhood tooth injuries and their treatments:
- Dislocated or loose primary tooth: The goal of treatment for this common injury is to prevent future damage to the permanent teeth. A loose baby tooth left in place sometimes heals without treatment. If it is very loose, your dentist may remove the tooth to prevent it from falling out and becoming a choking hazard. If knocked out completely, the tooth should not be replaced into the gum. This could cause damage to the underlying permanent tooth.
- Broken primary tooth: A dentist should examine the child as soon as possible to see if there is damage to the tooth’s nerves or blood vessels. Treatment may include smoothing the rough edges of the tooth, repairing it with resin material, leaving it in place or removing it.
- Dislocated permanent tooth: Try to replace the dislocated tooth in its socket within 15 minutes of the injury, then call the dentist. If you are unable to replace it, place the tooth in cold milk and get to the dentist right away. The tooth usually survives if stored in milk and replaced within one hour. Teeth stored dry and reimplanted after one hour rarely survive.
- Loose permanent tooth: Prompt dental treatment usually returns the tooth to its correct position. Sometimes, the dentist may use stitches or splints to hold the tooth in place until it heals.
- Broken permanent tooth: These can usually be repaired successfully, especially if treated within two days of the injury. Tooth fragments can sometimes be reattached and should be stored in tap water until you get to the dentist. If the fragments cannot be found or reattached, the dentist may repair the tooth with a resin material.
Depending on the injury, your child’s dentist may prescribe pain medication or antibiotics. Eating a diet of soft foods and maintaining good oral hygiene with twice daily brushing and regular flossing assists in recovery. With your immediate first aid and prompt professional care, most childhood tooth injuries heal successfully and rarely lead to complications.
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