Children lose teeth naturally as their permanent ones come in. Yet, their active lifestyles also make them more susceptible to losing a baby tooth before its time.
Whether your child wiggled a baby tooth loose, or took a blow to the mouth on the monkey bars, knowing how to handle the situation helps you preserve their precious smile.
Find Out If It Was a Natural Loss
In some cases, your child may be wiggling a tooth for weeks, and you know that it will happen soon. However, it is also common for a child to suddenly present with a missing tooth that seems like a mystery. Start by checking the location of the tooth. If it was a natural loss, then your child may have a permanent tooth already growing in its place.
You can also consider the timeline. Most children lose their front teeth first. The next teeth tend to follow a progressive sequence from the front to the back. If a child randomly loses a molar before their front teeth, then you need to find out if it was caused by an injury.
When to Worry About Baby Tooth Loss
A baby tooth that is naturally lost is usually nothing to worry about. However, you may need to consult with your child’s dentist if they have lost a tooth before you think it's time.
If the tooth was lost due to an injury, we can check to make sure that there is no further trauma that could injure the permanent tooth. In some cases, your child may need to have a spacer to prevent the other teeth from crowding into the gap.
Check for Bleeding or Other Injuries
Baby teeth sometimes bleed after they fall out, but this should be temporary. Permanent teeth, however, can bleed profusely. A blow to the mouth can also cause other injuries such as cuts to the inner cheeks and gums. If there is significant bleeding, have your child rinse their mouth with lukewarm water so that you can see any other injuries.
Apply First Aid
Bleeding and pain from a lost baby tooth should be mild. You can control this by having your child rinse their mouth with warm saltwater and bite down on soft gauze.
A knocked-out permanent tooth and other oral injuries can sometimes lead to severe pain, bleeding and swelling. For pain, you may decide to give your child their normal over-the-counter pain reliever. You can also have your child gently hold gauze over any areas in their mouth that are bleeding.
If you notice significant swelling, then place a cold pack on the outside of your child’s mouth near the area that is injured.
How to Preserve a Permanent Tooth
Try to find the permanent tooth as soon as you know that it is lost. If you find it, be careful to hold it by the crown and not the root. Rinse it with water if you see any dirt. You can then try to insert it back into the socket. If it will go in, have your child hold it in place by biting on a piece of gauze.
A tooth that cannot be reinserted can be placed in a special preservative solution commonly found in first aid kits. Alternatively, you can place it in a glass of milk or have your child place it in their mouth under their tongue. As a last resort, you can put it in water. The idea is to keep the root moist.
Your ability to address a lost tooth quickly gives your child the best outcome for preserving a permanent one that falls out. The chance of saving a tooth is highest within the first 30 minutes after it is lost. Once you apply first aid, schedule an emergency appointment so that we can try to save the tooth.