Dossier: Healthy teeth

Milk teeth: what to do in case of accident

It’s easy to panic when children fall and hurt their teeth, but if it's only their milk teeth it’s usually not so bad.

Text: Julie Freudiger; photo: Unsplash

Yanis is crying inconsolably. When he was playing at the park, he didn’t pay attention and was hit in the face by a swing. A heart-stopping moment: Yanis is bleeding heavily from the mouth and he’s lost his front teeth. Dental accidents can happen in an instant with children, and they often seem very dramatic. However, in many cases it’s not as bad as it looks, particularly if it’s “only” their milk teeth. Yanis’ parents respond correctly by pressing a sterile bandage on the wound to stop the bleeding. An appointment with the dentist can wait until the next day, because milk teeth that fall out won't be replaced.

What to do when

Even loosened and broken milk teeth don’t need to be shown to the dentist straight away, unless there’s bleeding from the broken tooth. However, if teeth have moved, go straight to the dentist so they can push the teeth back into the right place again. If milk teeth are impacted, treatment is only necessary in rare cases.

Zahnunfälle bei bleibenden Zähnen

Dental accidents are more serious if children already have their adult teeth. You should see a dentist within hours and take any broken teeth and tooth pieces with you – stored in milk or saliva. Do not disinfect broken teeth or touch the root. You can buy tooth rescue boxes at the pharmacy, which you can use to store the tooth in the best possible condition until you get to the dentist.

It’s also important to observe the child after the accident. Are they acting differently? Do they feel sick or sleepy? These could be signs of concussion. In this case, you should take the child to a paediatrician.

Who covers the costs?

In the event of an accident, the child’s basic insurance will pay any dental costs incurred. Even if no treatment is necessary at the moment, a dental accident should always be reported to the insurance company, because consequential damage often only becomes apparent years later. Accidents and a few dental treatments due to illness are the exception: in all other cases, basic insurance doesn’t cover dental costs.

Checklist: when should you see a dentist?

Milk teeth:

Knocked out: within a few days; teeth won't be replace

Wobbly: within a few days; treatment isn't urgent

Moved: on the same day; the teeth will be repositioned.

Chipped: within a few days for small chips; on the same day if there's bleeding from the tooth

Impacted: within a few days; treatment is rarely necessary

Adult teeth:

In all cases: within a few hours (teeth that have been knocked out or chipped – take the tooth or piece of teeth with you in milk or saliva)