Baby Tooth Injury
When to go to A+E
Call 999 or go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Department if the child affected:
- Has been knocked unconscious
- Is having difficulty breathing or speaking
When to see an emergency dentist
If your child has suffered a bang to the mouth or face and there is a possibility it could have affected their teeth. Our recommendation would be to visit a dentist immediately to make sure there has been no damage to their teeth.
Dental injuries that definitely require an emergency dentist appointment include:
- Knocked baby teeth with or without any sign of bleeding
- Fractured baby teeth
- Baby teeth that have moved out of their original position
- Baby teeth that have been knocked out
If a child has damaged the soft tissues inside their mouth and lips, they may require dissolvable stitches. This can normally be completed by a dentist. Any other cuts or wounds to other parts of the face will normally require a trip to your nearest A+E department.
What to do if a child injures their baby tooth
- Knocked baby tooth – Keep the area clean with a soft toothbrush and stick to eating softer foods.
- Fractured baby tooth – Avoid any food or drink that causes your child discomfort.
- Baby tooth that has moved out of its original position – Avoid biting on the tooth and avoid any food or drink that causes your child discomfort. If your child is in pain, provide them with the pain-relieving medication they would normally take if they were poorly.
- Baby tooth knocked out – Do not re-insert your child's tooth. If the area where the tooth came out is bleeding, try to stop the bleeding by applying pressure with a clean cotton handkerchief or something similar. If you have the tooth, book an appointment with an emergency dentist and take it with you. If your child is in pain, provide them with the pain-relieving medication that you would usually administer if they were unwell.
- Finally, book an appointment with an emergency dentist near you.
Emergency Dental Treatment
Knocked baby tooth – If the tooth hasn't moved out of position, there is normally no initial treatment. They will advise on how to care for the tooth and offer a follow up appointment to monitor it.
Fractured baby tooth – Treatment will depend of the severity of the fracture:
Enamel fracture – A fracture involving the first layer of the tooth (enamel) is either left alone or smoothed if it is too sharp. Occasionally the dentist may try and build the tooth up if the child can tolerate treatment.
Enamel/Dentine fracture – If the second layer of the tooth (dentine) is exposed, the dentist will normally try to place a filling to seal the tooth to protect it.
Enamel/Dentine/Pulp fracture – If the fracture has gone through to where the nerve and blood vessels are found, the dentist may need to do further treatment to try and preserve the nerve/blood supply, before restoring the tooth with a filling. If the child cannot tolerate this type of treatment, these teeth are sometimes extracted.
Baby tooth that has moved out of its original position – Treatment will depend on the type of movement.
Baby tooth pushed into the gum – If the root of the baby tooth is in a position away from the adult tooth underneath, it can be left. However, if there are signs that the root of the baby tooth is in a position where it is pushing into the adult tooth underneath, then the baby tooth may need to be extracted.
Baby tooth moved forwards or backwards – Depending on how much the tooth has moved and if the baby tooth interferes with the child's bite, treatment options include:
- No treatment
- Removal of a small amount of tooth to improve bite
- Repositioning the tooth
- Extract the tooth
Baby tooth moved down, further out of the gum - Depending on the severity of the displacement and the root condition of the tooth, treatment options include:
- No treatment
- Repositioning the baby tooth
- Extract the tooth
Baby tooth knocked out – If the entire baby tooth has been knocked out, it is not advisable to re-implant the tooth.
In all the above circumstances the dentist is likely to provide a clinical and radiographic assessment and provide follow up appointments to review the injured teeth.
The best ways to prevent injuries to baby teeth include:
- Move hard low-level furniture to one side when a child is learning to walk
- Supervise at bath time, provide an anti-slip mat and try and stop the child from standing up in the bath.
- Try to stop children from walking with items in their mouths, for example toys and toothbrushes, especially if they are learning to walk.
- Wear a boil-and-bite mouthguard if taking part in contact sports.
All the advice on this page is based on the evidence base of www.dentaltraumaguide.org.