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Taking part in sports and rough-and-tumble play can be healthy fun for children, but it can sometimes result in a knocked-out tooth. Whether the child loses a baby tooth or a permanent tooth, parents can help by knowing what to do. Losing a baby tooth might not seem serious, but a visit to the dentist is still required. Your dentist can also try to reattach a lost permanent tooth or provide a cosmetic solution for a gap in the smile.

When a Tooth Is Knocked Out

To control the bleeding, place a piece of sterile gauze over the socket and ask your child to bite down on it or hold it in place. You should avoid touching the root of the tooth when handling it. Rinse it in milk if the tooth is dirty. Don’t scrub the tooth or remove any pieces of tissue. Gently replace the tooth in its socket, or if that isn’t possible, put it in a clean container of milk or saltwater. Don’t wrap the tooth in a napkin or allow it to dry because this reduces the chance that it will reattach.

Take your child to see a dentist as soon as possible, and bring the tooth with you.

What Can Happen

Losing baby teeth is a normal part of growing up, but losing them too early through accident or injury can cause problems. Baby teeth forced into the gum can damage the permanent teeth beneath them. Losing a tooth before it’s ready to come out can lead to other teeth crowding into the vacant spot. The teeth might not leave enough room for the permanent tooth to emerge, which can cause crooked teeth and eating problems. Dentists can prevent this from happening by inserting a space maintainer in your child’s mouth until it’s the right time for the permanent tooth to emerge.

Knocked out permanent teeth sometimes reattach if they are held in place for several weeks. Your dentist will splint the tooth to the teeth next to it using a thin plastic or metal wire. Over time, the ligaments that join the tooth to the bone may regrow. At the following appointment, your dentist will check to see whether the tooth has reattached and if it’s safe to remove the splint.

Filling the Gap

When a permanent tooth doesn’t reattach, an implant or bridge can return your child’s perfect smile. Fitting an implant or bridge generally requires several appointments. An implant or bridge requires the same care as natural teeth: Regular dental checkups, flossing, and brushing are required to maintain a healthy smile.

Seeing your child lose a tooth by having it knocked out is a heart-stopping moment, but taking preventive measures and booking an appointment to see your dentist can help save the tooth and help to avoid further problems. Even when the tooth can’t be saved, your dentist can provide a solution. A knocked-out tooth is a manageable emergency for parents who know what to do.