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Knocked Out Teeth: 5 Questions Parents May Ask

Feb 21, 2024
Young boy with mouth open

Kids often get dental injuries, and one of the toughest situations is when they accidentally knock out a front tooth. This can be scary for both the child and the parent. Sometimes, it happens while playing far from professional help. However, if you are ready and take simple steps, you can help your child in an emergency. Acting quickly when a tooth is knocked out can make a big difference.

Here are some questions parents often have about knocked-out teeth in kids:

How can I be prepared for a dental emergency even if it has not happened yet?

To be a proactive parent:

  • Know where to go in case of a dental emergency. Save your child's dentist’s contact info or find a clinic or hospital with emergency dental care.
  • If your child plays sports, get them a mouthguard to reduce the risk of dental injuries.
  • Encourage others working with children to have an emergency plan, like school staff and athletic trainers.

What should I do if my child knocks out a permanent tooth?

  • Stay calm and ensure safety.
  • Check for other injuries.
  • If safe, place the tooth back in the socket, and have your child bite gently on wet gauze or washcloth.
  • If you cannot put the tooth back, maybe someone else can including the child themselves!
  • Take your child to the dentist immediately for stabilizing the tooth.
  • If non-dental injuries, see a physician.

What if I can't put the tooth back in the socket?

  • If it’s not possible to put the tooth back, handle the tooth from its crown and place it in cold milk.
  • Do NOT put the tooth in water. If you do not have cold milk, put the tooth in child’s own spit.
  • Take your child to the dentist for evaluation and treatment immediately.

How about if it is a primary (baby) tooth that was knocked out?

  • If you’re certain it is a baby tooth, don't put it back.
  • If you’re unsure, follow the same steps as with a permanent tooth and see a dentist for evaluation.

What next? If the tooth is put back, will it last forever? How can I help my child keep it longer?

  • Immediately placing the tooth back into its socket increases its survival chances.
  • Despite this, it may not last forever. Follow the dentist's recommendations, which may include root canals and long-term monitoring. Additionally, make sure that your child is properly vaccinated against tetanus.
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Featured Expert

Ehsan Azadani, DDS

Ehsan Azadani, DDS, MS is an attending and director of Dental Trauma Clinic at Nationwide Children's Hospital andan Assistant Professor of Pediatric Dentistry at the Ohio State University College of Dentistry. 

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.