It's a nightmare you only truly understand after you're a parent: your child runs up to you with a stunned look and a toothless smile, and says "look, my tooth got knocked out!" Children are used to loosing teeth (after all, they lose all 20 baby teeth between the ages of 6 and 12), so they don't always panic when an adult tooth gets knocked out. They simply don't realize what a big deal this is—but you do!
Should you ever find yourself in this situation, it's important to know what to do with your bleeding child and with his or her tooth. First of all, take a deep breath, and don't panic. According to the American Association of Endodontists, more than 5 million teeth are knocked out every year, so you're not alone. Many of these teeth are able to be placed back in their sockets, as long as quick action is taken.
First of all, go look for that tooth.
Don't worry, your child will not bleed to death from the crater in his or her gums. If there is another adult on-site, you can have that person run to get a washcloth or some gauze to control the bleeding, but in the meantime, your number one priority is locating that tooth. After all, you can't ask the dentists to put it back in your child's mouth if it's still sitting in the middle of a field. Explain the importance of finding the tooth to your child and have him or her lead you to the place where the accident happened. Scan the ground for the tooth. Have others help you search, if possible.
Treat the tooth with care.
When you spot the tooth, carefully pick it up by the crown (the part you can see in the mouth). Do not touch the tooth roots, as doing so may damage them and make the tooth less likely to re-take to the socket. If the tooth is dirty, rinse it with plain water -- don't scrub it, use soap, or touch it with anything other than a gentle stream of water.
Put the tooth back in its socket.
This is the awkward part. If your child is nervous, you may need to have another adult help you keep him or her calm as you attempt this feat. In most cases, however, children are unbelievably calm about losing teeth. Have your child open his or her mouth, and use your fingers to push the tooth back into the socket. Older children may be more comfortable doing this themselves. Just make sure your child has the tooth facing the right direction. Once the tooth is back in the socket, tell your child to bite down gently to keep the tooth in place.
Call your dentist immediately.
The sooner you get your child to the dentist, the greater the likelihood that the tooth will be saved. If there is another responsible adult there with you, you could have that person make the call to the dentist while you work on locating and re-positioning the tooth.
If the accident occurs during normal daytime hours, call your child's regular dentist. He or she may with to see your child, or may send you to an emergency endodontist in the area. If the accident occurs after hours, either look for an emergency dentist in your area and call immediately, or call your regular pediatric dentist's office—most have voicemail services that will direct you to an appropriate emergency specialist in your area.
There may be times when, for whatever reason, you are unable to insert the tooth back into its socket. If this occurs, store the tooth in a container of milk until you reach the dentist's office. Don't let it dry out, and don't store it in tap water.
Having your child knock a tooth out can be traumatic, but if you take a few deep breaths and act quickly, the outcome is not typically too terrible. In the worst case scenario, a dental surgeon can replace your child's missing tooth with an implant that looks and feels like a normal adult tooth, and you'll have a great story to tell friends and family members.