Common traumatic dental injuries in children and adults include chipped or cracked teeth, as well as dislodged and knocked-out teeth. Treatment depends on the type, location, and severity of each injury. If you or your child suffer a dental injury, even if it seems very mild, make an appointment to see Dr. Kanter as soon as possible. Internal trauma to the nerve and pulp of a tooth may not be immediately apparent and can result in necrosis, abscess, swelling and discomfort many weeks (or even years) after the fact, if not treated. Sometimes, neighboring teeth suffer an additional, unnoticed injury that can only be detected by a thorough dental exam.
Can kids’ teeth be saved after a traumatic dental injury?
Dr. Kanter has the specialized knowledge and skill to treat dental trauma in children so that their natural teeth and developing roots can be saved. Chipped or dislodged primary (baby) teeth are usually just aesthetically restored with fillings or crowns, but injury to immature permanent teeth requires special attention. The blood supply to immature permanent teeth and the presence of stem cells make regenerative procedures more likely to be successful.
Do you accept new patients for emergencies?
We would rather meet you under better circumstances, but we certainly understand that sometimes patients come to us in severe pain or with an emergency dental trauma like a dislodged or knocked-out tooth. Rest assured that we will do our best to provide the urgent assistance you need in an appropriate time frame.
What should we do with a knocked-out tooth to give it the best chance of being put back in?
If an adult tooth is knocked out, or a permanent tooth in an older child, it is vital to see an endodontist within an hour of the injury to safely secure the tooth. The sooner a tooth is put back, the greater the chance of success.
In the meantime, an adult should try to gently place the tooth back in the socket to protect the delicate tissues from drying out or becoming damaged. Hold the tooth by the crown (the white, shiny part) and not the root, which has delicate cells needed to re-attach the tooth. Once back in, get the injured person to bite gently on a handkerchief until seen by a dental professional. If the tooth is muddy or dirty it may be gently rinsed in cold milk or saliva. Do not scrub it, dry it, or put it in disinfectant. This will damage the delicate cells on the root needed to attach the tooth back to the gum.
If you are unable to immediately put the tooth back in and see an endodontist within an hour, you must keep the tooth moist. Teeth may successfully be reattached up to 24 hours after an accident if the tooth is treated properly. Put the tooth in a cup of milk, or have the injured person keep the tooth between their cheek and the gum. Do not put the tooth in plain water, as it could damage the root cells.
More information and detailed instructions on what to do if a tooth is knocked out or dislodged can be found at the American Association of Endodontists.