Don’t panic if your child chips, loosens or loses a tooth. But do allow a dentist to assess and repair the damage without delay, says pediatric dentist Trista Onesti, DDS.
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“A quick response can mean the difference between preserving and losing the tooth. And early tooth trauma can cause problems with adult teeth as your child grows,” Dr. Onesti says.
Common tooth scenarios: chipped, loose or lost
If your child fractures or chips a tooth, call your dentist instead of the emergency department. Most dentists have an emergency hotline you can call when an accident occurs outside of operating hours. Acting quickly is important. More about caring for a chipped tooth
When an adult tooth is knocked loose, a dentist will need to secure it quickly. He or she may need to secure the tooth with stabilizing wires or dental material as soon as possible. Contrary to popular belief, there are also important things to consider if a baby tooth is knocked loose. More about acting when a tooth is knocked loose
If your child loses an adult tooth, someone must re-insert it as soon as possible. Whoever is nearby — a parent or coach, for instance — should gently, but quickly clean the tooth and push it back into the socket. Many people don’t know that you have less than an hour to do this before the likelihood of saving the tooth long-term is jeopardized. More about saving an adult tooth
How tooth trauma can affect kids later
Early tooth trauma can have long-term effects. Down the road, a child may have nerve damage that relates to early tooth trauma.
“Sometimes the damage is immediately apparent, but other times it may develop over months or even years,” Dr. Onesti says.
Trauma can provoke inflammation, which may damage the tooth’s root or nerve over time. If this continues, a root canal may be needed down the road; in some cases, it may even be necessary to extract the tooth. Therefore, it is important to inform your dentist of all previous traumatic incidents so he or she can evaluate with the necessary X-rays.
The bottom line: The best way to protect your child’s teeth — now and in the future — is to get him or her to the dentist as quickly as possible when tooth trauma occurs.