Kids are active, and no parenting manual will keep them safe from accidents. Sporting events, schoolyard scrapes, and general childhood play have been blamed for countless incidents of knocked-out teeth. Every year, more than five million permanent teeth in both children and adults. If it happened to your child, would you know what to do?
Breath and Stay Calm
Losing a tooth can look far worse than the actual damage – injuries to the mouth can result in a surprising amount of blood loss. This is frightening for kids, and they look to their parents for support, guidance, and security. Keep your cool, staunch the blood flow, and be the haven your child needs to calm down. But do it in fast motion, because you must act quickly to save a tooth that’s been knocked out.
Collect and Clean the Tooth
The tooth can be saved, but it first needs to be found. Scan the immediate area for the tooth. When you find it, pick up the tooth by the chewing end (the crown), not by the root. Your instinct will be to keep the tooth from getting lost again, but refrain from putting it into a pocket or purse. Rather, rinse the tooth it with clean water – no soap or water, please – and continue to holding it by the crown. Do not pat it dry or wrap it in a cloth.
Reinsert the Tooth
If you find the tooth within five minutes, carefully place the tooth back into its socket. This is the most important step for saving a permanent tooth, hence the deadline. The quicker you find and clean the tooth, the more likely you are to save the tooth. The socket is still in shock and should be able to reabsorb the structure within a few minutes of the injury. Nevertheless, you want to see a dentist immediately. The dentist will remove dead pulp and disinfect the area.
What if You Can’t Reinsert the Tooth?
If you are unable find the tooth within the five-minute deadline, other steps are in order. Rinse it with clean water and place it into a small cup of milk. If you do not have access to milk, coat the tooth with your child’s saliva. The safest place for the tooth at this point is in your child’s mouth between the lip and gum, but avoid doing this if you’re worried that he or she might swallow it. Do not cover the tooth with water at this point – it needs specific enzymes to stay “alive”.
See a Dentist as Soon as Possible
An avulsed (completely knocked out) tooth can be saved by a professional, but time is of the essence. The tooth and the injured party should be transported to the nearest dentist within 30 minutes to one hour. The sooner you act, the more likely your child’s permanent tooth can be saved. Just keep breathing, mom and dad. You’re doing fine.
Sachar Dental, located in Midtown Manhattan, offers a full range of dental services for children and adults. Contact Dr. Sachar immediately if you find your child in the unfortunate position of having a permanent tooth knocked out.