Your child falls down at the playground and walks up to you with a mouth full of blood — not exactly a winning moment for any parent. When you inspect things more closely, you notice on your child a wobbly permanent tooth. Instantly, you go into a panic, wondering what to do and where to go.
In these moments, keeping a level head is crucial because your reaction to the loose permanent tooth will affect how your child handles it. The best way to stay calm when something happens to your child is to arm yourself with knowledge. With the right information stored away, you’ll know what to do and where to go and be far less likely to lose your cool when a situation like this happens to your kid.
Immediately After the Incident
Knowing what to do when your child gets a loose permanent tooth can make the difference between saving it or having to take further interventions. When a tooth emergency happens, use these steps to handle the situation.
1. Take a Look at Their Mouth
The first thing you should do after realizing something is wrong with your child’s teeth is to carefully and quickly analyze the situation. Look at the socket to see if your child’s tooth is loose or if part or all of it has fallen out. Your findings here will determine your next steps.
If the tooth is just loose, have your child bite down on gauze to keep the tooth in the socket and get to the dentist as quickly as possible. Avoid wiggling the tooth anymore. If any part of the tooth is missing, you’ll need to continue with the remaining steps.
2. Find Any Pieces of Tooth
If part or all of a tooth is missing, scan the area for it. Check around your child’s mouth and on the ground where the accident happened.
Your dentist will have the easiest time correcting your child’s teeth if you can bring them the missing pieces. Otherwise, there’s far less they can do to help.
Once you think you’ve found it, pick it up by its bulk rather than the root. You need the cells on the root alive for it to qualify for reattachment, and touching the root could destroy those vital cells.
3. Check the Tooth for Damage
Next, check the tooth for any damage, like missing pieces. Remember not to touch the root if you can help it. If you find chips, scan your surroundings again to see if you can find any remainder.
4. Store it in Their Mouth
Once you’ve found all you can, return the root of the tooth to the socket in your child’s gums. You can carefully rinse off any dirt in a cup of water, but don’t run it under the tap, or you risk damaging the cells. After you’ve placed the tooth back in your kid’s mouth, have them bite down on gauze or a damp paper towel and keep pressure on it until you can get to the dentist.
5. Or Use a Cup of Milk
Sometimes there’s too much swelling or damage to get the tooth back into its socket easily. In this instance, put it in a small container with milk or your child’s saliva. These fluids will preserve the tooth while you drive to the dentist’s office.
Options at the Dentist
Once you’ve done your best to preserve the tooth or socket, it’s time to get to the dentist. They’ll assess your child’s teeth and devise a plan of action. You should familiarize yourself with some of the standard procedures for a loose permanent tooth.
1. Reattaching the Lost Tooth
If you found the tooth quickly enough and restored it to the socket or preserved it in saliva or milk, there’s a chance your dentist can reattach it. They’ll use a tooth splint to hold it in place for at least a few weeks. However, it’s important to know not all teeth take properly. If the root or socket is too damaged, the tooth will slowly decay, discolor and fall out again.
2. Dental Bridge
A dental bridge is one of the more common procedures dentists perform for lost teeth. They model a false tooth to fit the gap and secure it in place using nearby teeth — the false tooth has one crown on each side that attaches to the teeth on either side. When taken care of properly, a dental bridge can last a long time before needing to be replaced.
3. Dental Implant
A dental implant is an improved solution for replacing missing teeth. However, the innovation comes at a premium price. Your child’s dentist will drill a metal post into the jawbone to serve as the new tooth’s root. They then attach a false tooth to the rod. You can opt for a false tooth that’s removable or fixed. If this is a procedure you’re interested in, you’ll want to consult your dentist because the process takes a long time and carries some complications.
4. Partial Dentures
If your child loses multiple teeth, partial dentures may be a cheaper and better alternative. Your dentist can create false teeth made especially to fill their missing gaps. You’ll need to help your child remove the partial dentures every night for cleaning and insert the teeth in the morning.
Veneers can cover any imperfections in your child’s teeth and are an ideal solution for a tooth where the root is still intact, but the crown is chipped. Your kid’s dentist will attach a veneer to the front of the tooth to mask any discoloration and chips underneath. The typical life span of these is 10-15 years, so they’ll need replacements throughout their lives.
Easing Your Child’s Fear of the Dentist
Getting your child to the dentist isn’t easy in the best situations — kids often have an innate fear of the dentist’s office. When you have to rush there for an emergency procedure, your kid’s apprehension is bound to skyrocket. On your way and while you’re there, you can use these tips to help ease their fears and calm your child.
1. Choose the Right Dentist
You should, ideally, have this step completed before an emergency strikes. When choosing a dentist for your child, consider their personality, interaction with kids, reputation, and office atmosphere. Pediatric dentists are typically the best option if you have one available near you.
2. Maintain a Calm Demeanor
From the time your child gets hurt on through recovery, you’ll want to keep a calm demeanor, at least in their presence. Your kids repeat everything they hear, try everything you do, and they’ll also get cues for how to react from you. If you’re panicking, they’ll sense your fear and be more fearful as well. When you act calmly, they’ll naturally feel more peaceful.
3. Ask About Sedation
Depending on what procedure you and the dentist decide to move forward with, your child will likely need some form of sedation. Ask about your options. Also, if your child is really struggling with pain and fear, you could ask about the possibility of laughing gas to help calm them down.
Kids feel much more comfortable when they know what’s coming. Steer away from scary words like “drilling,” but explain the possibilities of what could happen using terms they’ll understand.
5. Let Them Have Screen Time
Even if you usually avoid screen time for your kids, now might be the time to allow a tablet or your phone. Download a fun new game for them to try or offer up one of their favorites. If you subscribe to a streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+, you could even let them watch a movie or TV show. Screen time can help distract them from their pain and fear of the dentist.
6. Offer a Reward
A little positive reinforcement can go a long way. Your child might stay calmer if they know you have a surprise for them afterward. Edible treats aren’t the best idea after the dentist, though. Instead, head to the dollar store and let them pick one or two things.
7. Just Hold Them
Possibly the best thing you can do for your kid is just to hold them. Let them know you’re there for them. They’re scared and a bit traumatized, so right now, they just need someone to care for them and make them feel safer. Once they’re in the dentist’s chair, hang onto their hand if you’re able or stroke their hair.
Loose Teeth Happen
While your child’s wobbly permanent tooth may seem like the end of the world, it’s actually a fairly common occurrence. If you take the proper precautions and know what to do when accidents happen, you’ll be able to remain calm and possibly save the tooth. Otherwise, you can rely on your dentist for a solution.
Author – Beth is the Managing Editor and content manager at Body+Mind. She is passionate about writing about fitness, diet, fitness, mental health, and parenting. In her spare time, Beth enjoys trying out new fitness routines and recipes.