That perfectly adorable smile. You know the one. The smile that sums up everything you love about your child. The smile that opens the floodgate of memories and makes your heart ache for days long gone. It’s a smile that you could pick out in a crowd, simply because it’s the smile that belongs to your child.
Even as I write this, I can envision the smiles of big bro and little sis. Even now, as I take my lunch break at work, just thinking about their smiles makes me feel all tingly happy.
But the problem with smiles… they reveal teeth. And the problem with teeth? They can be knocked out. They get cavities. They are a source of bedtime battles as you try to make sure they’re brushed.
Big bro knocked his front upper tooth loose while goofing around in the bathtub. I should have known better. It was one of those unnecessary and totally preventable accidents. We were done with bathtime. The water was drained from the bathtub and my son sat in the middle playing with his bath toys. I figured I would run quicklyto his room to grab a diaper and pajamas. I told him to remain sitting. What was I thinking? What toddler sits still when asked to do so? Sure mommy, you’ve left me in this big wet tub full of toys. Of course I’ll sit still.
Just as I grabbed the diaper, I heard a ka-dunk followed by a thud-a-dud-dud. Then came a cry that made my heart sink.
As I ran into the bathroom, I could already see blood around his mouth. I quickly checked his body to see if anything else was injured, while also trying to calm my now hysterical boy down. Then I looked in his mouth and saw that his front tooth was still in place, but now completely loose and angled outward.
Thankfully, there wasn’t any serious harm from his slip and fall in the bathtub.
No childhood is complete without some scary falls, tumbles, and head bonks. Obviously, many are out of your hands. But in this case, I’m still kicking myself for leaving him alone in the bathtub for even less than a minute. A lot can happen in less than a minute. Especially if there is water. As little as a couple inches of water have been known to cause infant/toddler drownings. This incident was preventable.
I hope I don’t ever think that with something far more serious.
What should you do if your child has knocked out a tooth?
First and foremost, make sure your child is evaluated by a doctor right away if there was a significant fall with head injury, other injuries to the body, or changes in the child’s mental status.
For permanent teeth:- Find the tooth and handle it by the crown portion only. Avoid touching the root.
- Handle the tooth as little as possible. Do not brush or try to clean the tooth.
- If the tooth isn’t fractured, you can try to reinsert it in the socket. Hold the tooth in place by biting down on gauze.
- If the tooth is fractured or you can’t reinsert the tooth, place the tooth in a cup with either the child’s saliva or with milk. (Milk has a similar pH to saliva.)
- See the dentist immediately. Time is of the essence in order to save the tooth.
For primary (baby) teeth:- Find the tooth. If you can’t find it, then it could be lodged within the gum, aspirated, or ingested. This would require immediate attention either by a dentist or doctor to verify the location of the tooth. Sometimes an xray may be necessary to rule out aspiration or ingestion.
- Since babies and young toddlers are often unable to communicate well, have a doctor evaluate your child for any other injuries or complications.
- Do not try to put the tooth back in the socket. Usually no attempt is made to “save” a primary tooth if it is already out of the socket.
- Contact your dentist for further instructions and earliest available appointment.
If a tooth has been knocked loose but remains in the socket, it is usually best to leave the tooth alone. Teeth have an amazing ability to recuperate, depending on the degree of damage to the root. After a few days, the gums will tighten around the tooth and it will feel more stable. Time will tell whether the tooth will survive. If the tooth discolors and darkens, it has most likely died and will fall out on its own. However, if pain and swelling also develops, an infection may be developing, in which case a dentist needs to be seen right away.
If you don’t have a pediatric dentist yet, start asking around and find one you like. It is so helpful to have a familiar person on hand in case of any dental concerns and emergencies. I do recommend finding a pediatric dentist in particular because there is usually more attention paid to the child’s perspective and more experience in working with children.
An initial visit to the dentist is recommended by 1 year old, even if there are only a couple teeth. It helps to familiarize a child to the dental office setting, and it’s a great opportunity for parents to learn more about caring for a child’s teeth.