A missing-tooth smile is a hallmark of childhood as baby teeth fall out. And although a gappy grin may give you plenty to smile about now, what should parents do if their child loses a permanent tooth?
When kids knock out their teeth in a contact sport or similar accident, parents typically fail to take proper steps in handling the trauma prior to the dental visit, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. With the right information, however, you can take these precautions and save your child's permanent tooth in the event of a loss.
Save the Missing Tooth - Dental implants may not be an option until the child is 15 years old, but parents can still consider one of a few cosmetic solutions until then. If your child unexpectedly suffers this loss, contact your dentist immediately for an emergency appointment. As you wait for the appointment, rinse the tooth in cool water only (no soap) without scrubbing it, then place it back in its socket in your child's mouth – holding it there with a clean gauze or wash cloth as advised by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). If it doesn't quite stay, though, you can also place the lost tooth in a clean container of cold milk, then head to your dentist's office as soon as possible. Your dentist may be able to graft the tooth back into its socket. Acting fast, you may be able to save the tooth and prevent infection.
Partial Denture - When your child's natural tooth can't be saved, a partial denture – which is a replacement for one or more teeth – is one way to salvage the smile. Supported by a metal or plastic frame, this partial denture (or simply "partial") clips onto your child's natural teeth on each side of the gap where the missing tooth was originally. Wearing dentures takes getting used to, especially for a young patient, so give him or her a little time to acclimate. It may also need to be regularly adjusted or fitted at your dentist's office so that it remains comfortable as the child's mouth grows.
Retainer With Artificial Tooth - Retainers aren't just for keeping teeth straight after a period of orthodontia. A young patient can wear a retainer that contains an artificial tooth to help fill in the gap in a smile. Retainers with an artificial tooth, also called a prosthetic dental flipper, are a temporary solution for missing teeth until a permanent treatment addresses the problem. The retainer can be clear and rest over natural teeth, while the false tooth made of porcelain or plastic blends in with a shade resembling natural enamel. Flippers are popular because they fit comfortably, but they can also aid in healing the wound and reduce bone loss, as detailed in Dentistry Today – an important benefit in the prevention of future tooth loss.
Keep on Smiling
Young adults deserve to feel confident every time they speak. A missing-tooth smile that involves permanent missing teeth requires immediate care because it could affect other aspects of their oral health. They'll need to continue a routine of brushing, flossing and rinsing with a cavity-fighting mouthwash such as Colgate® Minions™ Bello™ Bubble Fruit® to maintain the overall health of their mouth and gumline.
Whether they've lost one or several permanent teeth, it's heartening to know there are dental treatments available for kids to restore their smile and keep them confident for years to come.