My Child Chipped a Tooth: Now What?

Are you wondering if a chipped tooth or a knocked-out tooth is a dental emergency? The answer is an unequivocal yes. This might not be something that you see every day, and yet it is surprisingly common, that a child will chip their tooth or even have a tooth knocked out.

The steps you need to take in these circumstances to save the tooth are not complicated. They are however, vital to the life of the tooth. You’ll need to react quickly, and appropriately so as to save the tooth.

In this post, we’ll take you through the steps you need to take for each scenario. Then we’ll explain the possible outcomes so you have an understanding of what you can expect.

What to Do if Your Child Chips a Tooth

  1. Locate the tooth fragment and store it in milk.
  2. Call the pediatric dentist office near you to get your child in as soon as possible.

Do not rinse or store the tooth fragment in water.

What to Expect if Your Child Chips a Tooth

Your pediatric dentist might be able to glue the tooth fragment back to where it belongs.

If not, a tooth colored filling may be used to fix the shape of the broken tooth instead. If it is a back tooth that is broken or chipped, it is possible that a crown will be used to cover and reseal the molar.

What to Do if Your Child Knocks a Tooth Out

For this scenario, it is important to first assess whether the knocked-out tooth is a baby tooth or a permanent tooth.

If it is a baby tooth that is knocked out:

  1. Locate the knocked-out tooth and pick it up by the crown of the tooth, avoid touching the root.
  2. If the baby tooth is dirty, rinse gently with milk or with contact lens saline solution.
  3. Store by submerging the tooth in milk, or your child’s saliva.
  4. Call the pediatric dentist office near you to get your child in as soon as possible.

Do not rinse the tooth with water.

Do not allow the tooth to dry out.

Do not attempt to reinsert the baby tooth. If you attempt to reinsert the baby tooth, it could damage the permanent tooth underneath the now vacated socket. Alternatively, it could attach itself to the socket which may cause problems in the future when the permanent tooth underneath is ready to erupt.

If it is a permanent tooth that is knocked out:

  1. Locate the knocked-out tooth.
  2. Pick it up by the crown of the tooth and be careful to avoid touching the root of it.
  3. If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse it with either milk or contact lens saline solution.
  4. While holding the crown of the tooth, have your child open their mouth and with a light but firm pressure re-insert the tooth to its proper place.
  5. They can hold the re-inserted tooth into place by biting down on a clean washcloth or handkerchief.
  6. Call the pediatric dentist office near you immediately to get your child in the dentist’s chair.

If your child won’t allow you to reinsert the knocked-out tooth, then submerge and store it in milk until you can get into your pediatric dentist.

If the knocked-out tooth is broken or chipped, submerge and store all found pieces in milk.

The sooner the permanent tooth can be re-inserted to the socket, it increases the chances that the tooth will embed itself again to the gum.

What to Expect if Your Child Knocks a Tooth Out

If the knocked-out tooth has not been reinserted, the pediatric dentist will assess the socket, and the tooth itself to determine if reinsertion of the tooth is appropriate.

If you were able to re-insert the tooth yourself, then the pediatric dentist will take an X-ray to examine and confirm that it’s in the proper position. Once the tooth is in the proper position, they will need to do a splint to ensure the tooth remains in place long enough to re-embed itself. 

What if You Can’t Find the Knocked-Out Tooth?

If you can’t locate the tooth that was knocked out, there are still measures your pediatric dentist can take. 

If the lost tooth was a baby tooth, your child’s dentist may determine to simply leave the gap alone and let the permanent tooth erupt in its own time.

If the lost tooth was a permanent tooth, there are four options available:

  1. Bridge – A bridge is when a false tooth is anchored into place by using sealant to attach it to the teeth on either side of it.
  2. Implant – An implant is when a screw is put into the jaw bone and then a false tooth is created from a mold.
  3. Denture – A denture is a false tooth that can be removed and cleaned.
  4. Leave the gap – This option may be the least popular, but it should be noted. 

All four options have varying costs and consequences. You would need to speak honestly with your pediatric dentist about the decision while you consider your child’s age, your financial situation, and your appearance preferences.

Potential Complications and Risks

No matter how straightforward the steps you need to take may seem, when a tooth is chipped, broken, or knocked out, there are potential risks and complications. 

If the nerve inside the tooth is injured or exposed it can be very painful. This may require a root canal. We place a lot of importance on submerging and storing broken or knocked out teeth in milk because as a tooth begins to die, it turns a black color. Restoring a tooth to its original color can be challenging if not impossible.

These kinds of dental emergencies commonly happen during sports activities. We recommend a mouth guard to protect your child’s smile. For more information about mouth guards, read our in-depth post, “Why Your Kids Should Use a Mouth Guard“.

Contact Utah Pediatric Dentists for Your Dental Emergencies

Utah Pediatric Dentists serve the Salt Lake City community at four convenient locations. If you have a dental emergency, one of our offices is sure to be near you. Dental emergencies for kids can be scary and painful. Our offices are comfortable and inviting to kids of all ages and we are fully equipped for in office sedation when appropriate.

If you have a dental emergency, don’t hesitate to contact us!