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What to do if your child has a painful, wobbly tooth

So your child has come to you, yelling that their tooth is shaking. They might be excited about finally becoming a ‘big girl’ or a ‘big boy’. They may be anxious about having a gap that their friends will make fun off. Or they may just be squealing with pain.

If this is your first child, they may be confused, having never experienced this before. It’s far more likely they know what’s going on, having seen it with elder siblings, schoolmates, or even characters on TV. Start by asking if they know what it means.

Usually, children start losing their baby teeth at age 6, so your child may have expected this. However, the wobbly tooth may come from a playground injury, in which case your child’s mouth may be bleeding, and your child may be scared. Rinse out their mouth with slightly salty water. This eases the pain and gives you a clearer view of the tooth.

If the bleeding is excessive – whether it’s an injured tooth or a natural loosening, call your dentist. Our staff are friendly, kind, and great at calmly anxious kids – and anxious adults too. If the bleeding isn’t too severe, inspect the tooth. Wobbly teeth may be sore and inflamed as the tooth detaches from nerve endings.

If your child is excited, join in their mood, marking this as an important milestone. If they’re scared, calm them down with hugs, cuddles, and reassurances. Some children are less touchy-feely and respond better to information, so tell them loose teeth mean they’re growing up, and that their teeth will soon grow back bigger and stronger.

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You could tell them the tooth fairy will visit if you have that tradition in your home. It gives them something to look forward to. You might also want to avoid old wives’ tales. These have ‘suggestions’ on removing wobbly teeth. Examples include tying one end of a string to the tooth and tying the other end to a stone or a door. You then drop the stone or slam the door.

These methods may seem playful and harmless, but they can easily traumatise the child and affect their attitude toward dental health. In practical terms, these methods may not extract the whole tooth, and any fragments left in the mouth can cause infections or affect the structure of the new tooth.

Your child might worry that they will swallow their tooth in their sleep, or while they eat. This can affect their food and sleep habits. Reassure them, and offer soft foods if needed. You can use a cold compress to ease your child’s swelling and pain. They should always be placed on the outside of the mouth to avoid frostbite or freezer burn.

For a home-made cold compress, wrap ice cubes in terrycloth. Slightly bleeding gums can be soothed by dipping gauze or terrycloth in water with just a little salt and placing it directly on the bleeding gum. You can also ask a dentist for safe anti-inflammatory medication. The tooth will usually fall out on its own, but if it takes too long, see a dentist.

As you wait for nature, help your child brush their teeth and show them how to wobble the tooth a little using their tongue or finger. Eventually, it will get loose enough to drop safely. Remind them only to loosen the teeth while brushing. Otherwise, they will put their dirty fingers into their mouths throughout the day, causing infections and tummy trouble.

For assistance, advice, or a consult on your kids’ teeth, call Dental Avenue Maroubra today on 02 8004 0055.

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