As a mom (and teacher), I strive everyday to engage, nurture, and expand the mind of my little one.
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Accidents Happen: Knocked Out Tooth

Baby teeth. We anxiously await their arrival. We document the milestone of when our babies get their "first tooth." We dread the sleepless nights, the drooling, the biting (especially if still nursing). We hate to see our babies in pain. We marvel at that little pearly white as it pokes through the gum.

But what happens when one of those cherished baby teeth gets knocked right out of your precious toddler's mouth? Well, that's exactly what happened to Owen, NHV's good buddy and son of my friend Tammy.

It happened when O was about 21 months old. He was running on the sidewalk in front of Safeco Field when he tripped and fell on his face. Now, O has been walking since he was 10 months old, so he's had plenty of practice bracing his falls. This time, however, he was not so successful. When he came up for air, his face was cut, his lips all bloody, and little white bits of teeth were floating around in his mouth.

Needless to say, we peeled out so fast our stroller left dust clouds in our wake! We set up an emergency visit with Owen's pediatric dentist, who, bless her heart, had to come in on a beautiful Saturday morning when she was just getting ready to spend the day at the park with her husband. After a lot of screaming and prying, we were able to take an x-ray of O's mouth. Both front teeth were badly chipped. The one on the left had chipped in half horizontally, in a crescent shape. The one on the right was not so lucky. Not only did it have a huge triangle chunk cut out of it, but it had a vertical fracture into the root.

Diagnosis? Extraction of the doomed tooth.

There was no other choice. I wanted to cry. What does this mean?? O will have one, albeit compromised, front tooth until his permanent ones come in. For the next 8 or 9 YEARS, he'll be known as the kid with one tooth! "Isn't there anything you can do?", I asked the dentist. "Baby dentures? Implants?" Unfortunately, no. They don't want to disturb or disrupt the growth of the permanent tooth. On top of that, Owen had to be sedated for the extraction process, unless we want him to be traumatized for the rest of his life, not to mention the fact that it'd probably take 2-3 large adults to hold him down for the removal if we choose to forgo the anesthesia ...

Click here to read the details of O's surgery.


As you saw in the photo above, ultimately, the decision was made to extract one of Owen's front teeth ... and clearly, having one less tooth hasn't slowed him down or made him any less adorable! But what a tough experience for parents to go through and clearly this is an accident that could happen to any toddler at any time! And any teenager, as my mom can attest to ... my 17 year old brother got his braces off and had his front tooth knocked out - playing tackle football without pads or a helmet - all within the same month! Talk about an expensive set of chompers!

As kiddos get older, this becomes an even more serious injury. According to, A dislodged baby tooth can't be replaced and does not need to be put back in. On the other hand, a permanent tooth, which is more sharply defined than a baby tooth, can often be saved if prompt action is taken and the tooth is handled carefully. A permanent tooth has the best chance of survival if replaced within 30 minutes.

In this case, prevention is a tough one. With toddlers the advice is to make sure the child is supervised ... which is a no-brainer. But an exuberant runner and unbraced falls, well, those things just happen - whether you're watching or not! For older kids, it's extremely important that proper protection is worn while playing sports.

Read more about Tooth Injuries here.

Click here for a Knocked-out Tooth Instruction Sheet.

Disclaimer: Clearly the Accidents Happen series is meant to be informative but also from a mother's point-of-view. The information provided in these posts are medically accurate - to the best of our knowledge - but we are not licensed physicians. We are mothers sharing an experience.

You may also want to read my other Accidents Happen posts:
Nursemaid's Elbow
Object in Nose


Oliver'sMom said...

OK, her post kinda made me queasy...Poor O! I think we got pretty lucky in the tooth department when Oliver did his face plant onto Kori's hardwood floors in April!

mrs.alderman said...

Wow!! what kind of mom would let this happen to her kid???!!! ;)

Chi-town momma said...

The same kind who has to fish a wheel out of her son's nose!

Jennifer said...

Hi, my son is also starting to have her baby tooth and it's a heartbreaking situation to see him cry whenever a tooth starts to say hi. I'm excited for he can eat solid food yet there were also a lot of implications that a baby should face such as having accidents, just like O. Right now, I'm looking for dental websites that can help me guide my child along the way. Thanks for sharing your story. I hope O's ok.

Ed Mcgoldrick said...

Accidents are part of being a kid. I remember when I was young, I fell on my bike and busted my tooth on the sidewalk. It's bloody and I'm scared as hell, so does my mom, but luckily it was not that serious. The wonderful dentist did a great job restoring my broken teeth. Bottom line is, accidents do happen, but that doesn't mean they're not preventable. Always be careful.

Anonymous said...

This just happened to my 3 year old daughter this weekend. Had an accident at a birthday party and had her 2 front teeth knocked out, 1 out completely and the other chipped in half. We had to have the second tooth extracted. A horrible experience but about an hour after the extraction she was back to her normal playful self! I think my husband and I are more traumatized by the experience. New teeth will come before we know it.

TanaMom said...

Similar incident happened to my toddler a week ago: freak accident involving toddler and his uncle tripping over each other left my 2 year old minus his two front teeth. Actually, they turned out to be imbedded in the bone (!) under his gums and had to be extracted. The surgery was today and he is doing just fine so far. Me, not so much. I am conflicted about whether to await his adult teeth in 6-8 YEARS - or pursue the option of having a partial made for him. While I know that he (and I) will get used to the absence of his two front teeth, I am worried about possible insensitive comments from kids and adults as he gets older - and what that might do to his self confidence. I think having teeth over the next 5 years or so as he starts school may be important for more than just asthetics. I would love to hear others experiences/thoughts on this topic.

Anonymous said...

TanaMom, what did you decide? This just happened to my 22 month old daughter. She lost three teeth and a molar and now looks like a hockey player. I am also worried about 8 YEARS without teeth. Did you get a partial for your three year old?

SAM said...

This just happened to my 2 year old son last night. Face hit the pavement and knocked out one of his front teeth root and everything. I was happy that the whole thing came out so he didn't have to have any further procedures, but upset to find out that the tooth will be delayed in coming in now which means at least 6 more years without a front tooth. Our dentist said that he didn't recommend doing anything cosmetic as it could result in more problems. Sorry to sound vain, but I don't want him to look totally goofy through Kindergarten and elementary school. I feel so guilty as the accident could have been avoided, but it is nice to know that I'm not the only one.

Anonymous said...

This happened to my 2 year old son last night. He tripped and fell and landed on the toy in his hand. His top front tooth fell out, root and all. Much more terrifying for me than him I think. I called his dentist (who he had just had a visit with that morning) she said its really best not to do anything so as to not jeopardize his adult tooth. She did say his adult tooth may be delayed by a year when the others start coming in.