Root Still in After Child’s Tooth Fell Out: What to Do

Root Still in After Child’s Tooth Fell Out: What to Do
profile picture of Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
Root Still in After Child’s Tooth Fell Out: What to DoClinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
Last Modified:

Clinical content featured by Byte is reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to help ensure clinical accuracy.

We follow strict sourcing guidelines and each page contains a full list of sources for complete transparency.

Table of Contents

  1. What to Do If It's a Baby Tooth
  2. What to Do If It's An Adult Tooth
  3. When to See a Doctor
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
  5. References

Children are supposed to lose their baby teeth before age 12, but sometimes a permanent tooth accidentally gets knocked out.

You can save the tooth if it is not broken and if the root is still attached.

Saving the tooth involves a bit of quick investigation about the tooth loss and then quick action. For the best results, get the tooth back into place, hold it and get your child to a dental professional immediately.

What to Do If Your Child’s Baby Tooth Falls Out with Root Still Attached

Most children’s baby teeth fall out naturally between the ages of 6 and 12. However, if your child loses a permanent tooth or a baby tooth before its time, they may require professional attention. 

Quick action is needed to keep the tooth safe so your child’s dentist can attempt to reattach it to the root. If you are careful, you may save your child’s tooth.

Baby teeth are easier to knock out than permanent teeth because the upper part (crown) is longer than the lower part (root). If your child loses a baby tooth before it was ready to come out on its own, follow these steps:

  • Find out how the tooth was lost. 
  • Find the tooth. 
  • Decide whether to replant it. 
  • Reinsert the tooth.
Find Out How the Tooth Was Lost
Was it by accident or through natural causes? If your child is at least 6 years old and lost a baby tooth, a new permanent tooth could have pushed it out. If this is true, the new tooth will soon erupt. If not, treatment will be needed. If you aren’t sure, consult your child’s dentist to be safe.
Find the Tooth
Look for the tooth to ensure it didn’t get in your child’s airways. But if the tooth isn’t available, interrogate your child on what happened. Examine the tooth to see if it’s broken. Your dentist can only replant the tooth if it’s not broken.
Decide Whether to Replant It

Replanting a tooth means inserting the tooth back into its socket and holding it in place for a few minutes. If successful, this will reconnect the tooth to the nerves and blood vessels that feed it.

Dentists and pediatricians do not always recommend replanting a baby tooth. This is because a replanted tooth can interfere with the growth of the permanent tooth. However, if your child is very young and will not have their permanent teeth for many years, you may consider replanting.

Reinsert the Tooth

If you decide to replant the tooth, you should seek the help of your dentist as soon as possible. The tooth can only be replanted successfully if its root and the crown are quickly reconnected.

If you decide not to replant the tooth, your child may develop a speech problem. When their permanent teeth start to grow, those teeth may also shift into the open space, leading to improper alignment. To prevent these problems, your dentist might recommend filling the space left by the tooth with a denture or other prosthesis.

What to Do if Your Child’s Adult Tooth Falls Out and the Root Is Still in

Unlike baby teeth, adult teeth (also called primary teeth) don’t grow back. If your child loses a permanent tooth, follow these steps:

  • Check if the tooth is in good condition. If the tooth isn’t damaged, you can replant it. Hold the tooth by the crown. Avoid touching the root.
  • Clean the tooth. If the tooth fell on the ground, rinse it with cold water first before attempting to replant it. Do not scrub it: this might damage the cells on the root. Also, avoid holding it with a tissue or a towel as this may cause it to dry out.   
  • Replant it as quickly as possible. Plug the tooth back into its socket and align it with the other teeth. Continue holding the tooth and apply slight pressure to it for five minutes.
  • Save the tooth if you cannot replant it. Try to replant the tooth within five minutes. If this is not possible, store the tooth in cold milk, a tooth preservative solution or a cup of your child’s saliva. Do not preserve the tooth in tap water. 

If the tooth is left to dry out, the root cells will die and the body won’t recognize it as part of itself. After saving the tooth, you should take it to the dentist as soon as possible to have it replanted.

Replanting a permanent tooth is less expensive than inserting a prosthetic tooth, and it does not involve any major risks. Replanted teeth are also more likely to survive in children due to higher levels of growth hormones in their bodies.

When to See a Doctor

After replanting a tooth, you should take your child to a dentist for further examination. The dentist will assess the condition of the tooth to determine the chances of survival. The dentist may also add a dental splint to the tooth to stabilize it and help it heal.

After about seven to 10 days, you should return to the dentist to remove the splint. If it is not removed, it can lead to a condition called resorption

Because the tooth may have collected some germs, your child’s doctor may give your child antibiotics and a tetanus shot. This will prevent them from developing a severe infection under the tooth. 

You should also see a doctor immediately if your child experiences any significant pain, swelling, oozing, or other abnormal symptoms. These problems may indicate that they are developing complications from the procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can tooth roots be left in?
When permanent teeth start growing, the roots of baby teeth dissolve. Permanent teeth that fall out or are extracted may leave their roots behind. If this happens, see your dentist to have the root removed.
What happens if a tooth root is left in the gum?

If a root remains in the gum, it may become infected. Over time, this may develop into an abscess. This is a potentially life-threatening complication with the potential to damage your jawbone, making it difficult to get a tooth implant later.

To avoid this, monitor your child’s tooth root carefully for signs of infection (pain, swelling or pus) and have it removed as soon as possible if you notice any problems.

How do you get rid of a retained tooth root?
Tooth roots are hidden inside the gums, so it’s usually hard to remove them using simple extraction. They require surgery to remove. To do this, your dentist anesthetizes your gums, then uses forceps and elevators to extract the root.

References

At What Age Do Children Start Losing Their Baby Teeth. (November 2021). Mayo Clinic.

The Field-side Guide to Dental Injuries. (August 2010). Dear Doctor Magazine. 

Knocked Out Teeth. (2022). American Association of Endodontists.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

TOP