It’s Saturday morning, and you’re enjoying your child’s soccer game. Kids are running around everywhere when suddenly, a tooth gets knocked out. What now? When a tooth is knocked out is called “avulsed.” It usually happens in children’s sports, and it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Prevention such as helmets and mouth guards help tremendously, but it still happens, and it’s quite scary.
Normally, teeth are connected to the socket by the Periodontal Ligament. When a forceful blow to the face is experienced, this ligament can stretch and split in half. At this point, the tooth is displaced from its socket in the bone and comes out.
So, what do you do when you have a screaming bloody child with a tooth out? First of all, don’t panic and access the situation. If it’s a baby tooth, nothing needs to be done. Baby teeth don’t need to be reimplanted. A visit to the dentist will be necessary, but losing a baby tooth isn’t necessarily an emergency unless other factors are present such as lacerations or bone breakage.
If it’s an adult or permanent tooth, find the tooth. It may be dirty, but never touch the root surface because it’s covered with cells and fibers that need to stay intact for successful reinsertion. The best outcome is getting the tooth back into the socket by a dental professional. However, this isn’t always the only option.
Getting to the Dentist within an hour is ideal. Place the tooth in “Save a Tooth” kit and get to the dentist asap. “Save a Tooth” is a kit that’s available over the counter and has everything necessary to prepare a tooth for reinsertion by you or a dental/medical professional. If you can’t get to the dentist, use the save a tooth kit and follow the directions by rinsing the tooth very gently and then reimplant the tooth in the socket taking care to place it correctly. All sports complexes should have save a tooth kits, and it’s a good idea always to keep one on hand.
If you don’t have a save a tooth kit, you can use whole milk to gently rinse the tooth (only if it’s dirty) and reimplant it into the mouth. If the child has other injuries, it will be necessary to transport the tooth with the child to the ER or urgent care. Milk or Saliva are the best transporters if you don’t have a Save a Tooth Kit. Try to avoid ice water, salt water, and sports drinks. Also, keep the tooth submerged in the suggested liquid. Do not wrap the tooth in a napkin or handkerchief.
Reimplantation within an hour provides the best outcome for the tooth to reattach successfully. Don’t be afraid of handle the tooth by the crown and place it back into the socket. It’s much easier than you think, but if it’s not going in easily, turn it around to see if you’re putting it in backward. If it still doesn't go in easily, transport the child and tooth to the dentist, ER, or urgent care with the tooth in the suggested fluid.