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Dental Trauma Instructions: Advice for Parents and Caregivers

Written by: Sam Zwetchkenbaum, Dental Director, and Madeline Weil, Academic Scholar, Rhode Island Department of Health, Oral Health Program.

If you are a parent or caregiver, you know that kids are always on the move. Having an active child means that accidents can happen at any time, including to primary (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth. The International Association of Dental Traumatology reports that most dental injuries occur before age 19. Recent research also shows that one out of three toddlers and one out of four school-age children experience some form of dental trauma.
Common dental trauma injuries include knocked-out teeth, fractured teeth, and loose teeth. These injuries can result in tooth discoloration, eating difficulties, discomfort, and visible damage. Below are Rhode Island Department of Health guidelines for what to do if your child’s teeth are injured. 
Baby Teeth
  • If a baby tooth is fractured or knocked out, there is no need to preserve or reinsert it.
  • See a dentist within 48 hours, as injuries can impact permanent teeth development.
  • Avoid cold foods. 
Permanent Teeth
  • If a permanent tooth is knocked out, fractured with bleeding, very loose, and/or displaced, see a dentist immediately.
  • See a dentist within 48 hours if the tooth is fractured with no bleeding or is slightly loose.
  • If you are unable to see dentist immediately and the tooth is fractured, store the segment (if found) in a small vial with tissue or cotton. 
  • If you are unable to see dentist immediately and the tooth is knocked out*,
  1. Pick up the tooth by the top (crown); 
  2. Rinse very briefly with water;
  3. Place gently back in socket; and 
  4. Have the child apply pressure with a finger or bite on gauze. 
For more information on oral health and where to find dental care in Rhode Island, please visit: www.health.ri.gov/oralhealth/.
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