When children lose baby teeth prematurely, the situation is far from ideal, but at least a new tooth will eventually grow in to replace it. Losing a permanent tooth, on the other hand, is a much more serious matter, and you must act quickly to save your child's tooth and spare yourself the expensive dental work that will need to be done if you cannot. Before you scramble for the door, however, follow these instructions to preserve the tooth and understand the potential consequences if it cannot be saved.
Attempting to Restore the Lost Tooth
Whenever a child loses a tooth in an accident, your first priority should be to track it down. Be careful to pick it up by the crown, not the delicate root. If the tooth is dirty, rinse it under warm water or milk, but do not scrub it or try to remove any flesh clinging to the root. Try to place the tooth back in its socket in your child's mouth, even if it only fits loosely.
If this is not possible for whatever reason, place the tooth in a glass of milk. This helps preserve it while it is in transit to the dentist's office. Other options for transporting the tooth include carrying it in your mouth or spitting into a glass and suspending the tooth in saliva. Get the tooth to the dentist as quickly as possible to maximize your chances of saving it.
Disguising a Missing Tooth in Childhood
Sometimes, a lost tooth cannot be saved. Whether it was broken, swallowed or simply lost with no hope of recovery, your child will be left with a permanent gap in his or her smile. Dental implants should not be installed while the jaw is still growing, but thankfully there are other methods available to disguise the loss until then. The most common of these is a removable dental prosthesis made of acrylic. This prosthesis is anchored into place using the child's remaining teeth and acts like a partial denture, giving your child a normal smile for social interactions, self-esteem, and school pictures.
Finding a Permanent Solution in Adulthood
Once your child is through puberty, the dental prosthesis can be replaced with a more permanent dental implant. Dental implants are anchored into the jaw like a real tooth and are typically accepted by the body as one. It does, on the other hand, require multiple procedures to install and may need to be periodically replaced, which is why it is so important to save your child's natural teeth whenever possible. If your child has just lost a permanent tooth, now is the time to hop in the car and drive to your pediatric dentist, who can begin taking steps to either save the tooth or prevent infection in the socket as it heals.
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