Save a smile, Children's Dental Health Month

  • Published
  • By 96th Dental Squadron
  • 96th Dental Squadron
February is National Children's Dental Health Month. Here are some tips on what to do if your child's tooth gets knocked out.

According to the American Association of Endodontists, an estimated five million teeth are accidentally knocked out of adults and children's mouths each year.

With proper emergency action, a tooth that has been knocked out of its socket can often be successfully replanted and last for years. It is important to be prepared and know what to do if this happens. The key is to act quickly, yet calmly, and follow these simple steps.

Locate the tooth immediately; do not leave it at the site of the accident. Pick up the tooth by the crown, (chewing surface) not the root. The tooth should be handled carefully. Touch only the crown to minimize injury to the root surface where the reattachment cells are located.

Clean the tooth with milk or saline water (salt water). If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse the tooth with the milk or saline water, remembering not to handle the root surface. Do not use soap or chemicals; do not scrub the tooth; do not dry the tooth, and do not wrap it in a tissue or cloth.

Reposition the tooth in its socket (area in the gum where tooth came out) immediately, if possible.

The sooner the tooth is replaced, the greater the likelihood it will survive. To reinsert, carefully push the tooth into the socket with the fingers, or position above the socket and close mouth slowly. Once repositioned in the socket, hold the tooth in place with fingers or by gently biting down on it.

If it is a baby tooth, do not replace it in the socket.

Keep the tooth moist at all times. The tooth must not be left outside the mouth to dry. If it cannot be placed in the socket, place it in one of the following:
  • Emergency tooth preservation kit (which can be purchased at a local drug store or online)
  • Milk
  • Mouth (next to cheek)
Milk is the most common available solution that is compatible with the reattachment cells on the root surface and is preferred over placement next to cheek as bacteria in the mouth can contaminate the root surface and complicate the reattachment process. If none of these are available or practical, use water (with a pinch of salt, if possible).

Bring the tooth to a dentist as soon as possible. The ideal time is within 30 minutes; however, it is possible to save a tooth even if it has been outside the mouth for an hour or more if it has been transported in milk or alternate compatible solution. If the emergency occurs after dental clinic hours, report to the emergency room.

The best method to prevent any trauma to your teeth while playing sports is to wear a sports guard. , The 96th Dental Squadron provides boil & bite mouth guards through the dental clinic and the gym for active-duty members. In unusual cases when a generic appliance is inadequate, custom made mouth guards can be fabricated on request by appointment.

It is everyone's responsibility to take care of their smiles by brushing at least twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and wearing a mouth guard when participating in any contact sport or whenever there is a possibility of making contact with the ground. Save a tooth, save a smile.