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What Are Tooth Preservation Kits?

My friend's daughter had a bad spill on her bike, and one of her front teeth was knocked out. My friend said she had a tooth preservation kit handy, and that helped save her daughter's tooth. I've never seen these kits — what are they and should all parents have one?
– Cara

Active kids do run the risk of losing a tooth in a fall. Safety precautions (like wearing mouthguards and protective gear for contact sports and helmets while biking, skateboarding, and inline skating) can help protect them. But some mishaps are inevitable.

Kids who lose a baby tooth won't need it replaced. But when an older child or teen loses a permanent tooth, it's a dental emergency. Permanent teeth have the best chance of survival if replaced within 15 minutes.

Whenever possible, a knocked-out tooth should be reimplanted immediately. For older kids and teens, try placing the tooth back in the socket without touching the root. Have your child bite down on gauze to help keep it in place.

For a younger child or if the tooth can't be reimplanted, having an emergency tooth preservation kit on hand can really pay off. These kits, recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA), contain a sterile balanced salt solution (BSS), which is ideal for preserving a tooth until the injured person gets to a dentist.

If a tooth preservation kit (or a container filled with BSS) isn't available, a knocked-out tooth can be put in a container of milk or your child's saliva for transport. You also can place the tooth between your lower lip and gum. Do not store it in tap water.

Whatever method is used, prompt medical attention is needed when a tooth is dislodged. Call your dentist right away or go to a nearby emergency room that has a dental service.