Dental Emergencies Part 3: Knocked Out & Missing Teeth

This is part 3 in a 4-part series during National Children’s Dental Health Month. Check back each Monday in February for more information on what to do with toothaches and infections, broken teeth, and wounds on lips and tongues.

The following instructions are to serve as a planning tool – it is still very important to call your dentist immediately for definitive instructions on how to handle a dental emergency. If the situation is life-threatening, call 911 or visit the ER first!

Part 3: Knocked Out (Missing) Teeth

Usually baby teeth wiggle out on their own (or can be coaxed), but occasionally a child falls accidentally and loses a tooth the hard way.

The most important thing to remember is to try to stay calm and try to find the tooth. Your child is likely already scared and possibly hurt. Comfort and calm them to reduce the fear. Reassure them that the boo-boo can be fixed.

If you find the missing tooth and know that it is a permanent (adult) tooth, hold the tooth by the crown (not the root) and rinse the root in water if the tooth is dirty. Don’t scrub the tooth or remove any attached tissue fragments.

If possible, gently insert the tooth back into the gum socket and hold the tooth in place with your fingers (or if you are alone, have your child bite on a clean gauze or cloth) while you head to the dentist.

If you are unable or scared to put the tooth back in your child’s mouth, place the tooth in a cup of milk and bring it to the dentist.

Time is critical for success in reimplanting your child’s adult tooth, so try and get to your dentist immediately. We typically do not reimplant baby teeth (due to the risk of harming the developing adult tooth), but if you are unsure of whether it is a baby tooth or adult tooth, place the tooth in milk and ask your dentist.

We hope this doesn’t happen to your child or teenager. But we are parents too, and know that kids find the strangest ways to injure themselves or others. If he or she does take a tumble or a hit to the head, we are ready to help. We can usually fit in emergency cases during office hours and one of our dentists is always on call for after-hours emergencies.

(CC Photo Credit: tianderson on Flickr)

Elizabeth Cook Miller, D.D.S., M.S. is a pediatric dentist at Atkins, Maestrello, Miller & Associates Pediatric Dentistry in Richmond, VA. She is a new mother, active runner and her favorite movie is "Finding Nemo".

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