Children love losing their baby teeth because a lost tooth means a visit from the tooth fairy. They can’t wait to put their tooth under their pillow and wake up the next morning to find money or a treat. But what happens when a lost tooth is not a baby tooth? Fifty percent of all children and teens will suffer at least one traumatic injury to a tooth by the time they graduate high school! The most common causes of tooth injury or loss involve falls, collisions and sports accidents. The American Academy of Dentists reports that sports accidents, including wheeled sports like skateboarding and bicycling, account for 10 to 39 percent of all dental injuries in children. Preventative measures can be taken to avoid tooth injury, but accidents still happen. Reacting quickly is the best way to save an injured or lost tooth.
Steps for Managing Tooth Injury/Loss
If a baby tooth is knocked out, it’s not such a big deal. Since baby teeth are going to fall out eventually anyway, there is no need to replace them. All you need to do is comfort your child and treat the injury.
- If bleeding, apply pressure with cold, wet gauze. Older children can bite down on the gauze to hold it in place.
- Apply cold to the area to reduce swelling. Hold an icepack wrapped in washcloth or an icepack cover to the cheek or, better yet, offer the child an ice pop.
- Provide children’s pain medication, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, if needed for pain.
- Alert the child’s dentist about the injury.
- Let your dentist know if there is pain, fever, swelling of the gums or a change in the color of the tooth.
If a permanent tooth is chipped or broken, collect all the pieces of the tooth and store in a tooth preservation kit like the Save-a-Tooth® Emergency Tooth Preserving System, milk or the child’s saliva. Have your child rinse their mouth with warm water, and call your dentist right away to schedule a visit.
If a permanent tooth is knocked out, act fast. According to Kidshealth.org, permanent teeth have the best chance of survival if replaced within 15 minutes. Go to the dentist or emergency room right away after following these steps:
- Find the tooth. Call a dentist or emergency room right away if you aren’t sure if it’s a permanent tooth. Baby teeth have smooth edges.
- Hold the tooth by the crown (the “chewing” end of the tooth), not the root.
- Place the tooth in a tooth preservation solution or system like the Save-a-Tooth® Emergency Tooth Preserving System. This kind of solution better protects the tooth from the two primary causes of replanted tooth loss: tooth cell crushing and tooth cell dehydration. The tooth is placed in a removable basket and a special pH-balanced preserving fluid that preserves and reconstitutes tooth cells. If you do not have this kind of solution, place the tooth in a container of milk or your child’s saliva. You also can place the tooth between your lower lip and gum. Do not store it in water; a tooth’s root surface cells cannot withstand water for long periods of time.
- For older kids and teens, try placing the tooth back in the socket without touching the root. Have your child bite down on gauze to help keep it in place.
- If the tooth is stored in a container rather than back in the socket, have your child bite down on a cold, wet gauze pad to relieve bleeding and pain.
Preventing Tooth Injury/Loss
- While kids may balk at the idea of wearing helmets, facemasks, face cages and mouth guards, these and other kinds of protective gear greatly reduce both the frequency and severity of dental trauma. Officials, coaches, parents and players should encourage use.
- Childproof with safety gates and bumpers.
- Keep floors picked up to avoid tripping over objects.
- Have children wear slip-proof socks on slippery floors.
- Teach children not to put objects in their mouths other than food and drinks. Encourage children to sit while eating and drinking, particularly when using a straw or eating food on a stick like popsicles or corndogs. Avoid having children eat in the car, especially when airbags can deploy.
Tooth injury and loss can have significant impact on children and their families because of the potential for pain, psychological effect of change in appearance, and the expense of treatment. Be sure to follow prevention guidelines, and keep your MacGill First Aid Kit on-hand to help manage all kids of injuries, including those to the mouth. To be prepared to save a lost permanent tooth, order a Save-a-Tooth® Emergency Tooth Preserving System, today. Follow preventative guidelines and be prepared for a tooth emergency so that your biggest tooth-loss worry is figuring out what the tooth fairy pays for lost teeth these days!
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only.