Here’s What To Do When Your Child Breaks a Tooth

Whether your child fell off a bicycle or endured a blow from a bad pitch at baseball practice, when a young one cracks, chips or loses a tooth, it can be a frightening experience for parents. Here I lay out seven steps to take in case you run into this emergency.

With warmer weather comes more chance for injury, as children are more active playing outside. If your child comes home with a cracked or broken tooth, it can be problematic if you don’t care for it properly. 

However, remember that the mouth heals quickly. If you take the right steps at the right time, your child’s cracked, chipped or broken tooth should heal with little to no problems. Follow these seven steps to ensure your child makes a healthy recovery. 

1. Call your dentist right away.

If you don’t keep your child’s dentist’s number in your phone, put it in right now! Any oral injury should be evaluated by a dentist — even if it’s completely minor. There could be a more serious injury present that isn’t as obvious.

For instance, if your child cracks one of his or her baby teeth, it may not seem too terrible at first. However, if the tooth is more than half cracked, the nerve may be exposed and require immediate attention.

(Sidenote: If your child’s broken tooth is a permanent one, the injury may call for root canal treatment. A primary tooth may not. Also, keep in mind that any tooth exposed to traumatic injury can turn gray, because the nerve may die.)

Your dentist will assess the situation and execute the proper follow-up care.

2. Use water to rinse out your child’s mouth.

Water will help clear away any dirt, blood or bacteria that may be lingering where the injury occurred.

3. Address soreness, pain and swelling.

Especially if your child took a hit to the face, place a cold compress on his or her face to numb the pain and reduce swelling. Even giving your child a popsicle will do.

Feed your child soft foods, and tell them to refrain from chewing on the same side as the injury. Over-the-counter pain medication may also help address the pain.

4. If it’s a permanent tooth, try to replant it.

Here’s what to do:

  • After you find it, pick up the tooth from the crown; avoid touching the root of the tooth.
  • If it’s dirty, rinse it under cold water for 10 seconds. Do not scrub with soap.
  • Place the tooth back in its socket and instruct your child to gently bite down on gauze, a handkerchief or washcloth.

5. Place it in a container if you can’t replant it.

Or if it’s a baby tooth.

6. Keep it moist.

Use “Save-A-Tooth,” cold milk, saliva, saline solution or water to do so. 

7. Bring the tooth fragment with you to the dentist.

In some cases, your dentist may be able to reattach the fragment with a dental bonding. 

If you follow these steps, and schedule a later appointment with your dentist to ensure the tooth is healing properly, your child should recover with little to no problems.

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