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What should I do if my child's tooth gets knocked out?

A baby tooth should not be implanted back in the mouth, but a permanent tooth should. Hold the tooth by the crown, and if it is dirty, rinse the root with water. Do not scrub the tooth or remove any attached bits of tissue. If possible, gently insert and hold the tooth in its socket with a clean wash cloth or gauze. If this isn't possible, or if the child cannot safely hold the tooth in his/her mouth, put the tooth in a container with milk, saliva or water. Take your child to the dentist as quickly as you can.
Don't panic if your child gets a tooth knocked out. This often happens when kids fall or get hit on the mouth with a ball or other hard object. There are ways of treating a missing tooth.

If a baby tooth is knocked out, it doesn't need to be put back in place. A permanent tooth will eventually grow in to fill the open spot. Stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the gum with a piece of gauze, and use ice to bring down any swelling. Take your child to the dentist just to be on the safe side, to make sure there isn't any other damage in the mouth.

If a permanent toot is knocked-out rinse it off and save it. Children who are old enough to do so should hold the tooth in its socket with their fingers. This is the best way to save a tooth so a dentist can try to reattach it. If your child is too young to hold the tooth, put the tooth or tooth pieces into a small container filled with cold milk or water, which acts as a preservative. Get your child to the dentist's office as soon as possible.

If a permanent tooth is knocked out, time is extremely crucial. If your child is old enough, have him hold the tooth in the corner of his mouth or in the actual tooth socket and get to the dentist fast so that it can be saved. If you or your child is uncomfortable with this or if your child is too young, put the tooth in a glass of milk. Either way, get to the dentist as quickly as possible. Time is of the essence.

From The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

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If your child loses a tooth slamming his mouth on the pavement or by way of any other kind of trauma, throw the tooth in milk and take it and your child to the dentist. Milk will keep the tooth at the correct pH level so that the dentist can put it back in your child's mouth. It's important to try to reimplant even a baby tooth that gets knocked out because losing a tooth early can change the spacing of teeth and affect how adult teeth grow in and are aligned.
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The procedures for a lost tooth vary depending on if the child loses a baby tooth or a permanent tooth. If it is a baby tooth, you will most likely not have to take any immediate action, and a permanent tooth will eventually replace the baby tooth anyway. If it is a permanent tooth, the tooth should be immediately cleaned with milk or saline solution, or put into a save-a-tooth kit if one is available. A doctor should then replace it in the socket. Time is crucial with this type of injury as it generally can be done only within a 30-minute period after being knocked out. This type of injury can be seen in any sports activities involving contact where mouth guards are not worn, such as volleyball, soccer, baseball, and basketball.

(This answer provided for NATA by the Georgia College & State University Athletic Training Education Program.)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.