If your child falls, teeth can be permanently damaged or knocked out! Traumatized teeth need treatment to prevent pain, swelling, trouble eating and dental abscesses.
Dental trauma can be categorized in three ways:
- The tooth can be chipped or fractured
- The tooth can be displaced or shifted from it’s originally intended location
- The tooth can be knocked out (also known as avulsed)
The first consideration is whether your child has traumatized their baby tooth or an adult tooth. If your child is older than 7, chances are that the front teeth are permanent. Otherwise your child most likely has a traumatized baby tooth.
Here are ways to help your child when they have a traumatic injury to their teeth:
If your child doesn’t have a normal reaction to the traumatic event (crying, scared, anxious or startled), you should call your pediatrician. This is an indication that your child may have a concussion or other brain injury.
Permanent (Adult) Teeth
If an adult tooth has been traumatized in a fall, accident or injury, involving a dentist is essential! Your decision could permanently affect your child’s tooth – remember that there are no replacements for the adult teeth.
Chipped or Fractured Adult Teeth
If your child’s adult tooth has been fractured the tooth needs to be protected from further damage. Your dentist may put a temporary filling on the tooth or simply file the tooth down so that it isn’t sharp. In these instances it is highly likely that the nerve has been affected so the nerve may need some TLC as well. A nerve treatment or root canal will help keep those teeth from forming an abscess.
It is important to get help because the exposed nerve of the teeth can be painful and sensitive, which makes it hard to eat.
Displaced Adult Teeth
Teeth are attached to the bone by tiny ligaments that hold the tooth in the socket. If a tooth is pushed into the bone, extruded out of the socket or pushed sideways it is imperative that the tooth be re-positioned correctly so that the ligaments can heal. Your dentist will then splint the teeth together so that the tooth is immobilized to promote healing. Time is of the essence in this situation; the sooner that you contact your dentist the better the outcome for your child and their adult tooth!
Avulsed (“Knocked Out”)Adult Tooth
If an adult tooth is knocked out time is vitally important. You should immediately put the tooth in milk and see your dentist within 30 minutes in order to put the tooth back in the socket. If the tooth isn’t put back into the socket within 30 minutes your child may lose the tooth altogether! If you can’t find any milk then have the child put the tooth between their cheek and gums. Saliva is a very good storage medium as well so if your child is hysterical, have them spit in a cup and place the tooth in their saliva in the cup. Remember to call your dentist IMMEDIATELY!
Primary (“Baby”) Teeth
Chipped or Fractured Baby Teeth
If your child’s baby tooth is chipped or fractured a dentist may be able to repair the tooth. There is no rush to repair the tooth but an x-ray is necessary to make sure that the adult tooth developing below your child’s injured baby tooth is okay. Adult teeth begin to form at birth so even very young children need an x-ray. One quick and simple x-ray will let your dentist know if everything is developing normally. If the tooth is sharp and cutting your child’s lips, cheeks or gums, the tooth can be smoothed down to protect your child’s mouth.
Displaced Baby Teeth
It is less favorable if a fall causes your child’s baby tooth to be knocked loose or pushed up into the gums. The developing adult teeth underneath the injured baby tooth make it difficult to save these teeth but not impossible! The adult tooth may erupt normally but the baby tooth may need to be extracted to make sure that the adult tooth stays healthy. Only with an x-ray can your dentist tell what needs to be done.
Avulsed (“Knocked Out”) Baby Tooth
Once a baby tooth is knocked out we can’t put it back in (sad face). This is too risky for the underlying, developing adult tooth. You should contact your dentist because there are very specific directions for taking care of the socket after the baby tooth has been knocked out. Often the parent’s biggest worry is how the child will look without the tooth. Not to worry!
Your pediatric dentist can aesthetically replace the tooth with a kiddie partial! There is a very simple process to custom make your child’s kiddie partial. Your pediatric dentist will let you know all about that.
If you suspect your child has experienced a dental trauma that has caused a tooth to fall out, become loose, become chipped, or has been shifted, call our emergency line!
Warr Pediatric Dental Associates has a 24-hour emergency line 336-887-9277. When the office is closed press the number “4” to directly connect to our emergency line.