For active people of any age there are a number of situations in which a tooth can be knocked out, including the most common of all – playing sport. Fortunately a tooth can sometimes be saved if quick emergency dental action is taken.
Let’s have a look at the differences between for tooth first aid for a lost deciduous tooth (baby tooth) and that for a lost permanent tooth (adult tooth). A lost baby tooth When your child comes to you crying with a bloody mouth and a tooth in their hand, a normal reaction is to panic. However, there are several steps you can calmly take to avoid permanent consequences. Importantly, you should first take all reasonable steps to find the lost tooth; this will eliminate the risk of the tooth being inhaled during the initial trauma. If the tooth cannot be found, it is best to take the child to a paediatric dentist or a paediatrician to check that the airways and lungs are not compromised.
Providing you have found the tooth, be sure to take the steps listed below to ensure the best outcome.
- Pick up the retrieved tooth by the crown without touching the root.
- Avoid cleaning the tooth or even wrapping it in a tissue.
- Don’t put the tooth in water.
- If possible place the tooth in emergency tooth preservation solution or in milk.
- If neither of the above liquids is available, try to stop the tooth drying out (timing is of the essence here!).
- Seek dental treatment with a paedodontist (children’s dentist) as soon as possible. This specialist will assess the socket and check for other injuries.
Most dentists are of the mindset that a knocked out baby tooth should not be re-implanted. If it were, damage to the developing permanent tooth underneath would be likely. If the tooth was already mobile, if (for example) it was a front tooth and if the child was five or six years old, then the tooth should certainly not be re-implanted. However, some dentists believe that, despite the potential risk to the developing tooth, there are individual circumstances in which re-implantation may be considered. For example, if the child’s baby canines (the third tooth from the mid line on both sides) haven’t yet come through, a tooth loss could make their jaw smaller, thus making it harder for the permanent teeth to eventually erupt into the mouth. Or if the baby incisors (the front four teeth) are lost before the child has mastered speech, speech development may be affected temporarily until the permanent incisors emerge.
When a permanent tooth is knocked out, the same tooth first aid applies as for baby teeth – with one exception. For a lost adult tooth, quick re-implantation is paramount in giving it the best chance of rehabilitation. If possible, immediately reposition the tooth in the socket. To do this, hold the tooth by the crown, making sure not to disturb any of the vital root cells. The tooth should be positioned with the rounded surface of the crown facing out and the flatter surface facing towards the palate. Carefully push the tooth into the socket with a finger, or position it above the socket and close your mouth slowly. Holding the tooth in place with your finger, gently bite down on it. If you are unable to place the tooth back in its socket, keep it moist in one of the ways described above for baby teeth. Ideally you should seek emergency dental treatment within 30 minutes of the accident. You should seen by a general dentist or a specialist endodontist to check that the re-implantation has succeeded and so that further checks can be made.
At Smile Solutions, our friendly staff can cater for unexpected emergency dental visits at short notice and with the latest dental technology at our fingertips. For further information Emergency Dentistry here.