When your child’s tooth takes a hard knock

What to do when a tooth comes loose

What do you do when your four-year-old takes a tumble into the edge of a table and knocks a front baby tooth loose but not completely out?

Give your dentist a call. More often than not, you'll be advised to put your child on a soft diet for the next 48 to 72 hours to allow the tooth to firm up. The dentist may also suggest you bring the child in for an x-ray, to determine whether or not damage has been done to a nerve or to a secondary tooth.

If the baby tooth has fallen out, just put it under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy to retrieve. Losing one or more front baby teeth may give the child a temporary lisp, but no permanent effect on speech development – or on eating – will result.

If your child seems to have a more serious injury than a loose or knocked out tooth, you may want to go to your local hospital so a physician can check his or her face, mouth and gums.

If your child is older and a permanent tooth is knocked completely out, call your dentist immediately for an emergency appointment. It is critical to get the child and the tooth to the dentist within 30 minutes of the accident, as it may be possible to successfully reimplant the tooth.

If possible, gently place the tooth back in its socket as a means of transport. Otherwise, place it in enough milk, salt water or saliva to cover the tooth. If none of these are available, use plain tap water. You may also place the tooth between the cheek and gum (unless the patient is a young child who may swallow it).

Read more about dental emergencies and how to handle them. Information courtesy of the Academy of General Dentistry
Last updated: June 2010

The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. You should always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.

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