Tooth Injury

What is a tooth injury?

The most common injury is when a tooth is jarred or slightly loosened. Often, the only noticeable injury is bleeding from the gums. These minor injuries heal in 3 days.

The next most common injury is tooth displacement (usually pushed inward). These may need repositioning and stabilizing.

Chipped (or fractured) teeth need to be seen by a dentist.

If permanent teeth are knocked out, it is an emergency. Baby teeth that are knocked out can't be reimplanted but the underlying teeth need to be checked for damage.

What should I do if my child's permanent tooth is knocked out?

Permanent (second) teeth need to be returned to their sockets and the gumline as soon as possible. Best results occur if a permanent tooth is reimplanted within 15 minutes; after 2 hours it can't be reimplanted. Ideally the tooth should be returned to the socket at the scene of the accident.

  1. Rinse off the tooth with saliva or water.
  2. If your child is old enough and mature enough not to swallow it, replace it in the socket facing the correct way.
  3. Press down on the tooth with your thumb until the crown is level with the adjacent tooth.
  4. Have your child bite down on a wad of cloth to keep the tooth in position until you can reach your dentist. If the tooth can't be reinserted, put it in milk or saliva and get to the dentist right away. Do not transport the tooth dry or in tap water. This will damage the tooth within minutes.

How can I take care of my child?

Put a piece of ice or a Popsicle on the injured gum area unless it increases the pain. If it still hurts, give your child some acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). If any teeth are loose, put your child on a soft diet for 3 days.

When should I call my child's dentist?


  • A large piece of tooth has been chipped off.
  • A red dot is visible inside a fracture.
  • A tooth is severely pushed out of its normal position or has been knocked out.

Call during office hours if:

  • A small piece of tooth has been chipped off.
  • A tooth is slightly pushed out of its normal position.
  • The tooth is sensitive to cold fluids.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick”, American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-06-07
Last reviewed: 2011-06-06
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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