When it comes to teeth, you’ve probably heard the basics about establishing good brushing and flossing habits, as well as trying to keep those sweets to a minimum. But there are still a lot of oral issues that you’re going to need to address as they grow, namely, what happens when they lose a tooth. Whether it’s due to an accident or aging, permanent or baby teeth, you want to make sure that you are prepared with what to do next.
Let’s start by talking about losing baby teeth. This is a natural process that happens when children are around 6, but it can vary. If your child loses a baby tooth far earlier due to an accident or tooth decay, make sure you bring them to a dentist right away. This could mean that there’s a greater issue with their oral health, and a baby tooth falling out prematurely may also impact whether or not the permanent tooth ends up coming in properly. A dentist will help in both situations.
When your child does lose their baby tooth, make sure that they gargle with warm water after it falls out, especially if there’s still some bleeding. Your child’s brushing habits can stay the same for the most part, but make sure that they don’t brush too hard around where the tooth fell out to avoid irritation. It’s also a good time to reestablish how important it is that they cut down on sweets and keep brushing, as their permanent teeth will soon become a regular rite of passage.
But what happens if a tooth is suddenly knocked out while your child is playing or due to some type of accident? At the end of the day, while you can do certain things in the moment, the best thing you can do is get them to the dentist as soon as possible. Ideally, if it’s an adult tooth, you want to clean it gently but quickly and put it into the socket. If that doesn’t work, the key is to save it in cold milk or saliva if possible. Make sure you reach out to a dentist with emergency hours.
If the tooth can’t be saved, it’s important to see what your options are in terms of replacements. For adults, dental implants are common, but they aren’t really a good idea for younger children, because they require inserting something into the jaw, and the jaw likely isn’t done growing yet (it may be viable for older teens). There are still alternatives out there that can help. For example, a removable partial dentist may take some getting used to, but is easy to take in and out and can handle several years of usage until your child is ready for an implant later in life.
Another option is a bonded bridge. This is a variant of traditional bridgework, but rather than altering existing teeth to hold it in place, it has “wings” that are bonded to the back of other teeth. It’s not as strong as a bridge, but it is a viable option.
It’s important to mention that in addition to replacements for lost teeth, you may see similar techniques applied to teeth at risk of being lost. According to Dr. Rylan J. Hansen of Hansen Dentistry in Apex, NC, “a dental crown is a cap that is placed on your tooth when there is not adequate tooth structure remaining to be able to support a traditional filling. A crown will provide the necessary protection that is needed to avoid tooth loss. The cap is placed over whatever tooth structure is remaining after any dental decay is removed.
Until recently, this procedure took multiple dentist appointments and weeks of waiting for a lab to create the crown which meant having a temporary crown in the meantime. However, new CEREC (Chairside Economical Restorations of Esthetic Ceramic) technology makes it possible for this procedure to take place in a single dentist appointment thanks to digital imaging technology and in-office milling unit.” Look at the linked crown before and after photo to see how it works in action. When dealing with loose and missing teeth for children, it can be a bit of a harrowing experience for everyone involved, especially if it stems from a dental emergency. Just know that there are tools for every situation to help restore their smile.