From around a year old, most toddlers begin taking their first tentative steps. Inevitably, this leads to a tumble or two as they learn to steady themselves. As soon as a toddler learns to walk, their parents had better be ready for the inevitable bumps, scrapes and bruises that are sure to follow shortly. A study by researchers at New York University even found that toddlers (12-36 months) fall an average of 102 times a day.
Their muscles, coordination and balance aren't the only things developing at this stage of their life. A toddler's teeth, too, begin to appear between the ages of 4-7 months, and by the time they are 3, they should have a full set of gleaming baby whites.
However, because toddlers cover an average of two and a half miles a day, their little baby teeth are often in danger of being damaged or knocked out completely. If your toddler has lost several teeth in a fall, don't panic. Instead, give your toddler a hug, and then do the following.
Understand that Your Toddler Has Two Sets of Teeth
Firstly, as a parent, you will naturally be concerned that your toddler has already lost a tooth at such a young age. However, it helps to remember that children have two sets of teeth.
The first set, which is known as the primary teeth, begins to fall out on its own from the age of around 5, starting with the lower incisors, then the top two and, then the lateral incisors on either side.
Whether you are able to re-implant primary teeth or not, as long as the permanent (secondary) teeth are okay, within a few months or years, your child will grow a replacement.
Locate and Replace the Knocked out Tooth/Teeth
If you can quickly locate the lost tooth, your dentist may be able to save it and re-implant it. After finding the tooth, rinse it with some milk and then gently put it back in the socket, taking care not to handle the root. The root of a tooth isn't protected by enamel like the crown is, and so handling it might irritate the nerve.
Get a Dentist to Re-implant the Teeth within Two Hours
Once you have found the tooth and placed it back in the socket, you need to get to a dentist within 2 hours, otherwise the connective tissues, also known as fibroblasts, may die.
After examining the area, your dentist can determine if re-implanting the tooth is a viable option. If your toddler is 3 years old, for example, and the tooth is one of the lower central incisors, which generally fall out first at around the age of 5, they may recommend that you simply wait for the permanent tooth to come in.
Ask Your Dentist to Examine the Permanent Teeth for Damage
Ask your dentist to perform an x-ray on your child's teeth to check that the permanent teeth, which should be developing in the gum behind the primary teeth, have not been damaged.
Even a permanent tooth can be damaged by the impact that knocked the baby tooth out; it may well be fine, except for a blemish or two caused by the collision.
Have Your Dentist Place a Spacer to Keep the Space Open for Permanent Teeth
If your dentist asks you to wait until the permanent tooth or teeth come in, you can ask them to place a spacer to ensure that there is room for the permanent tooth to come in later. A spacer is a small orthodontic appliance that keeps teeth on either side of a space from moving into the gap.
Toddlers will run, and they will fall. It is inevitable. However, while you can nurse the bumps, scrapes and bruises yourself, in the event of a knocked out tooth, you will need the help of an emergency dentist to ensure that your toddler's teeth are okay.