When an adult tooth is knocked out, emergency dental care is needed to prevent infection — and many times, to place the tooth back into its socket. With prompt care, a sound tooth can often be restored. But what about when a baby tooth is knocked out? Does that require the same type of care?
The answer is yes — and no. When a baby tooth is knocked out, your child definitely needs to come to see their dentist, but the treatment the team at Full Circle Dental Care in Del City, Oklahoma, provides will be different from the care provided when an adult tooth is lost. Here’s what you need to do if one of your child’s baby teeth is knocked out.
The important role of baby teeth
Baby teeth actually have several important roles. Just like adult teeth, baby teeth help your child chew, eat, and speak clearly. As such, they help your child progress in school and socially, too.
But beyond that, baby teeth have another important function. Resting atop the permanent teeth that are developing under the gums, these tiny teeth serve as “placeholders,” helping ensure the adult teeth have the space they need to emerge unimpeded when the time comes.
All these functions mean it’s very important to provide dental care for baby teeth that have been damaged in some way. That includes baby teeth that have cavities, are chipped, or get knocked out.
What to do if a baby tooth is knocked out
The main things to do if a baby tooth is knocked out: First, have your child rinse their mouth out to clean the area. Be sure they rinse gently — there’s no need for vigorous swishing.
Next, give your child a cold, wet washcloth or bit of gauze to bite down on — gently. This helps stop the bleeding and keeps the area clean until you can get to our office. Finally, call the office so we can schedule your child for a visit.
How we treat a “knocked out” baby tooth
The first thing your child’s dentist will do will be to examine the tooth socket to ensure the tissue surrounding it isn’t damaged. Typically, the socket left by a missing tooth will soon form a clot that helps protect the underlying tissue. The socket will also be examined to ensure the entire tooth has come out and hasn’t simply broken off below the gum.
Unlike adult teeth, we don’t try to put a baby tooth back in the socket. That’s because doing so could wind up damaging the developing adult tooth beneath it. Instead, once we ensure that the socket is in good shape and the surrounding tissue hasn’t been damaged, then we consider the space left by the tooth.
Since a baby tooth serves as a placeholder for the adult tooth beneath it, if the baby tooth is knocked out early, it could cause problems with alignment. Depending on your child’s needs, we may recommend using a device called a spacer or space maintainer to “hold open” the space until the adult tooth emerges.
Finally, your child’s dentist will provide instructions about how to care for the tooth while the area heals. Since baby teeth fall out eventually, the healing time is fairly rapid.
Your child’s smile deserves the best
Having a baby tooth knocked out can be disconcerting — to you and, perhaps especially, to your child. But in most cases, the treatment is simple, and with a little TLC, your child can enjoy a healthy, beautiful smile.
To learn more about dental emergencies and what you can do to protect your child’s teeth, book an appointment online or over the phone today with expert dentist Samuel Sigmon, DDS.