Dental Emergencies

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My first experience with a dental emergency was during college, when my boyfriend (now husband) called and I could instantly hear the panic in his voice. He lost his front tooth fielding a ground ball playing baseball. He was lucky that he found his tooth and that the dentist was able to put it back into his mouth (with his teammate as his assistant).

So, what should you do if your child loses a tooth traumatically? It depends on whether or not it is a baby tooth.

If it is a baby tooth, do not panic. Baby teeth typically do not need to be replaced. However, notify your dentist.

If it is an adult tooth, do not panic. This is a dental emergency, but panicking will only make the situation worse. First, try to find the tooth. If you find the tooth, pick it up by the crown (the part you see in the mouth). Rinse it off, but do not scrub the tooth. Avoid touching the root of the tooth (the part below the gums). If you can, gently replace the tooth in the mouth. If you cannot replace the tooth, put it in a glass with balanced saline solution like Save-a-Tooth ( , milk, or saliva. For an older child, he or she can keep the tooth in between the gums and lower lip. Call your dentist to schedule an emergency visit because the tooth needs to be replaced as soon as possible, preferably within 1 hour.

Keep in mind that prevention is the best medicine!

  • Always wear a mouth guard for sports (and a helmet for particular sports)
  • Don’t allow children to run with objects in their mouth
  • Be careful getting toddlers into and out of the bath tub
  • Open things with scissors, not teeth
  • Child proof your home, use gates to secure stairs
  • Visit the dentist every 6 months