What You Should do in Case of a
For a parent, seeing a child lose a tooth in an
accident can be gut wrenching. Such injuries are often
bloody and can be anxiety provoking for the child as
well. Knowing how to prevent dental injury and what to do
in case an accident occurs can save your child's
All teeth, even baby teeth, are important. Many
parents, are under the false impression that baby teeth
are less important because they will eventually be
This is absolutely not true. Baby teeth serve
several important functions including, acting as spacers
creating enough room in the jaw so that permanent teeth
can come in, aiding in proper speech development, and
serving to help build self-esteem in the newly
What To Do in Case of an Emergency
One of the most important things you can do as a
parent to protect these precious baby teeth is to make
sure that you are prepared before an accident even
Before an emergency ever
Make sure that your dentist has
after hours coverage meaning that he/she or a partner is
available to take care of dental emergencies. Keep your
dentist's emergency number readily available (carry it in
your wallet or organizer, for example).
The most common dental emergencies include (1) teeth that
have been knocked out due to trauma and (2) teeth that have
been chipped as a result of an accident. In either case, it is
important to know what to do.
Time is the enemy when a tooth is knocked out. If a dentist
is seen within one hour after an accident, chances are good
that the tooth can be re-implanted and saved. Remember to rinse
the tooth off and place it in a cup of saliva or milk. See a
With chipped teeth the situation is slightly more
complicated. If your child is experiencing pain or sensitivity
in the affected tooth, see a dentist immediately as this
indicates the tooth nerve may be injured. The dentist can
perform a root canal or other necessary procedure to save the
tooth. Afterwards, a porcelain crown or bonding material can be
sculpted onto the tooth to replace the lost portion.
If no pain or sensitivity is experienced the situation is
not as critical. You should call your dentist to double check,
but in most cases, you can simply schedule a future appointment
to replace the lost portion of the tooth with a porcelain
veneer or with bonding material.
If your child's tooth is knocked
- Carefully rinse the tooth in water. Make
sure that you do not touch the root of the tooth with
your hands. The root is the portion of the tooth
embedded in the gum and not normally seen.
- Attempt to place the tooth back in its
socket and secure with a wet wrap. If this is not
possible or if you are afraid that your child might
swallow the tooth, place it in a glass containing
either saliva or milk.
See your dentist immediately.
If your child's tooth is
- Check to see if your child is experiencing pain or
sensitivity in the tooth. If so call your dentist and seek
dental treatment immediately.
- If your child is not experiencing pain or sensitivity,
contact your dentist to see whether or not your child
should be seen. In most cases, this will not require
immediate attention and your dentist will schedule your
child for an appointment.
Preventing Your Child's Dental Injuries
The best way to prevent a dental emergency is to
properly protect your child. Increasingly, dentists are
recommending that children engaged in sports wear mouth
guards. Once only used in football and ice hockey, mouth
guards are now being recommended for other sports as well
including rollerblading, basketball, and soccer. Most
mouth guards are made of plastic and cover the lower
Not only do mouth guards protect teeth but they
also protect lips, gums, and cheeks. Commonly there are
two types of mouth guards:
- Semi-formable mouth guards are
available in sporting good stores and in drug stores.
Often these mouth guards can be boiled to fit
allowing them to sit snugly against the teeth.
- Dentist made mouth guards are
custom made. The dentist creates a mold of the mouth
which is used to create the mouth guard.
Consequently, these mouth guards fit more securely
against the teeth affording the best
Another way to reduce the risk of dental injury is to watch
out for situations that commonly lead to injury. These are some
of the more common:
Trips and Falls - Falling into furniture and down stairs
often causes dental injury. This is most likely to occur when
children are first learning to stand using furniture to
Children who are just learning to walk also have a tendency
to fall down - often onto household furniture or other items.
If you have an infant make sure to child-proof your home before
they become mobile, usually around 12 - 16 months.
Water Fountains - Often kids injure teeth by ramming them
into the spout of water fountains as they drink. Sometimes kids
behind them accidentally bump into them causing them to injure
Forks and Spoons - Believe it or not, some injuries are
self-inflicted when people, not paying attention, crack or chip
their teeth with spoons or forks as they eat
Bottle Caps - Tell your child to never open a bottle cap by
using their teeth.