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FAQ: What should I do if my child knocks out his permanent tooth?

tooth

The best thing to do with a baby tooth that is knocked out is to put it under the child’s pillow for the tooth fairy. However, when a permanent tooth is knocked out, it is critical that action be taken immediately because whether the tooth survives is based on the time it takes to get the tooth back in the socket. A tooth that is knocked out from a sports injury, a fall, or any number of other ways needs to first be briefly rinsed with water for a few seconds to get any dirt off the tooth. The next step depends on your desire and ability to replace the tooth in the socket. The absolute best thing to do with a knocked out permanent tooth is to replace it in the socket right after quickly rinsing it with water. If this isn’t a possibility (the child lost consciousness) or you are not willing or able to do this, the next best thing to do is place the tooth in cold milk. Milk is the liquid that is most like the tooth’s natural environment and the cells on the root will be able to live for several hours in cold milk. Do NOT place the tooth in water, juice, Gatorade, or coke, because if the cells on the tooth root die, the tooth will not be able to heal once it is replaced in the socket.

The lifetime cost to replace a front tooth that is knocked out and does not survive is around $10,000 (for bridges, crowns, a dental implant, etc.). So if we can keep that tooth healthy, and it survives, not only will the child have a better smile, less dental procedures, and issues, but the parent will save a significant amount of money! This is why even if it seems gross to stick the tooth back in the socket, it really is the best treatment and gives the tooth the best chance of healing. Once the tooth is replaced in the socket (or if it is in cold milk) find a pediatric dentist or general dentist as soon as possible who can help you stabilize the tooth in the mouth. The tooth will usually require a root canal within 7-10 days after being knocked out, unless the tooth just recently erupted. The child will have to wear a splint on the teeth, which is typically made from fishing line and a white filling material. The splint will stay in place for around two weeks to allow the tooth to re-attach to the bone in the jaw.

If you have any questions about a permanent tooth getting knocked out, or would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at 205-419-7444.