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Children's Symptoms > Mouth / Teeth / Throat Symptoms > Tooth Injury
Tooth Injury

DEFINITION

  • Injury to a tooth

Types of Tooth Injuries

  • Loosened tooth - may bleed a little from the gums. Usually tightens up on its own.
  • Displaced tooth (usually pushed inward)
  • Chipped or fractured tooth
  • Avulsed (knocked out) tooth - a dental emergency for permanent teeth

First Aid Advice for Knocked-Out Permanent Tooth

  • To save the tooth, it must be reimplanted as soon as possible (2 hours is the outer limit for survival). Right away is best. If more than 30 minutes away from dental or medical care, replace the tooth in the socket before coming in. Use the following technique:
  • Rinse off the tooth with saliva or water (do not scrub it). 
  • Replace it in the socket facing the correct way. 
  • Press down on the tooth with your thumb until the crown is level with the adjacent tooth.
  • Have your child bite down on a wad of cloth to stabilize the tooth until you can reach your dentist.
  • Note: Baby teeth can't be re-implanted.

Transporting a Knocked-Out Permanent Tooth

  • If unable to put the tooth back in its socket, follow these instructions:
  • It is very important to keep the tooth moist. Do not let it dry out.
  • Transport the tooth in milk or saliva (Milk is best per American Dental Association 2003)
  • MILK TRANSPORT OPTION 1 (best): Place tooth in a small plastic bag with some milk. Put the plastic bag in a cup of ice.
  • MILK TRANSPORT OPTION 2: Place tooth in a cup of cold milk.
  • SALIVA TRANSPORT OPTION 1: Put the tooth inside the child's mouth. (Be careful not to swallow it) (EXCEPTION: Age less than 12 years old)
  • SALIVA TRANSPORT OPTION 2: Put the tooth in a cup and keep tooth moist with child's saliva (spit).

WHEN TO CALL YOUR DOCTOR

Call Your Dentist or Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • You think your child has a serious injury
  • Permanent tooth knocked out (Reason: needs reimplantation ASAP; 2 hours is the deadline for tooth survival) --See FIRST AID
  • Permanent tooth is almost falling out
  • Baby tooth is almost falling out
  • Bleeding won't stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure
  • Tooth is greatly pushed out of its normal position
  • Tooth that's pushed out of its normal position interferes with normal bite
  • Severe pain
  • Age under 1 year old
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently

Call Your Dentist Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
  • Baby tooth knocked out by injury (Reason: can't be reimplanted but dentist will check for damage to permanent tooth)
  • Tooth is slightly pushed out of its normal position
  • Can see a chip or fracture line (crack) in the tooth
  • Tooth feels very loose when you try to move it

Call Your Dentist During Weekday Office Hours If

  • Tooth sensitive to cold fluids
  • Tooth becomes a darker color
  • You have other questions or concerns

Parent Care at Home If

  • Minor tooth injury and you don't think your child needs to be seen

HOME CARE ADVICE FOR MINOR DENTAL INJURIES

  1. Local Cold: For pain, apply a piece of ice or a popsicle to the injured gum area for 20 minutes.
  2. Pain Medicine: If it still hurts, give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen.
  3. Soft Diet: For any loose teeth, offer a soft diet for 3 days. By then, it should be tightened up.
  4. Call Your Dentist If:
    • Pain becomes severe
    • Tooth becomes sensitive to hot or cold fluids
    • Tooth becomes a darker color
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.


Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 9/15/2011

Last Revised: 8/1/2011

Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.


Additional Resources:

 How to use the Adult Health Topics pages
 When to call the doctor
 Reviewers of Clinical Content

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be for medical diagnosis or treatment.

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