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Those of us with children have seen it happen at least once. Your toddler falls, jumps, or otherwise throws himself or herself into a hard and unforgiving surface - furniture, other people, the ground, etc. And the next thing you know, a tooth has popped free of the jawbone. So, what to do now? How do you treat the injury and maintain your child's dental health?

First, look closely at the child's mouth to get an idea of what the injury entails. Is the tooth merely knocked out cleanly? Or does it look more serious - is there damage to the gums, the face, or the surrounding teeth? For the latter, consider a trip to the emergency room, allowing a physician to assess all of the apparent damage. However, if the only injury is to the now-free tooth, contact your child's first for direction.

Here are some possible ranges of outcomes:

  1. A baby tooth has been knocked loose, but not completely out.

For a loose tooth, call your dentist for instruction on what to do next. He or she will likely prescribe a diet of soft foods for several days, allowing the loose tooth to re-implant itself into the jaw. If the injury is more severe, he or she may ask the child into the office for an exam and x-rays, in order to look for damage to the nerves or surrounding teeth and/or gums.

  1. A baby tooth has fallen out completely.

Generally, this is no huge concern. A child who loses a front baby tooth may experience a temporary lisp, but no permanent effects are likely at all. He or she will almost definitely grow to speak and eat normally. That said, call your dentist to discuss the injury and follow his or her advice.


  1. A permanent tooth has fallen out completely.

Contact your dentist immediately. If you can get the child to the dental office within half an hour of the incident, the dentist may be able to re-implant the tooth itself.

Care for the tooth en route to the dentist to boost the chances of preserving the tooth. Give it a light, gentle water rinse to clear dirt or debris from the tooth, but resist the urge to scrub or polish the tooth. (This abrasion could harm some of the tooth's root cells, which are necessary in re-implantation.)

Be sure to keep the tooth moist. If the child is older and can hold the tooth in his or her mouth without swallowing it, have him or her store it between the cheek and gum. If this is not an option, wrap it in a cloth soaked in water, salt water, or milk.

Yes, a dental injury to your child can be scary. But following these simple tips can often keep a jarring situation from turning much more complicated.

Dental Injuries In Children