The Best Ways to Save a Smile
From routine orthodontic visits to dental trauma—or even tooth loss—get some helpful tips for safeguarding teeth
If an older child loses a permanent tooth, the stakes are even higher as your child’s adult smile could be jeopardized. Under these circumstances the AAPD advises parents to:
- Find the tooth.
Rinse it gently in cool water. Do not scrub the tooth or use soap on it. Scrubbing the tooth can wash away the natural fibroblast sticking to it. Fibroblasts serve as the “glue” between the tooth and the bone. A dentist will irrigate the tooth and the socket and rinse away any unwanted particles.
- Replace the tooth.
Ideally in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or a washcloth or a clean finger. The blood-rich environment of the socket is the best place for the tooth until you can get professional help.
- Place the tooth in a clean container.
If you cannot put the tooth back in the socket, place it in a clean container with milk, water or saliva. Better yet, keep a Sav-A-Tooth Emergency Tooth Preserving System or EMT Tooth Saver on hand for emergencies. A Sav-A-Tooth kit is a special tooth-preserving cup that contains the same medium used to transplant organs. One kit can store up to three teeth, and it can keep a knocked out tooth alive for up to 24 hours. The kit can be found at many drugstores, or it can be ordered through Life Assist or Smart Practice (800-522-0800).
- Go to the destist, pronto.
Most importantly, take your child and the tooth to a dentist immediately. (Call their emergency number if it is after hours.)
For a simple toothache, parents should rinse the child’s mouth with water and apply a cold compress or ice wrapped in a cloth, and call the dentist immediately for an appointment. Do not put heat or aspirin on the sore area.
The best advice in all cases is for you to remain calm and contact your dentist. Your quick action can lessen your child’s sense of panic and discomfort, as well as prevent infection.
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