Kids Health Info

Broken or dislodged tooth

  • A fall or knock to the face can result in a child biting a lip or tongue, or dislodging a tooth. These injuries can result in heavy bleeding or swelling, for which urgent medical treatment is needed as there is an increased risk of a blocked airway. If a tooth is knocked out in a collision or fall, knowing the correct first aid may save the tooth.

    Signs and symptoms

    • Bleeding from the mouth, lips or gums
    • Pain around the mouth
    • Loose or broken tooth (from impact)
    • Swelling of lips or jaw
    • Unable to close mouth/jaw

    First aid

    Bleeding or swollen lips, tongue or gums

    • Check your child’s airway. If your child is having trouble breathing, call 000 immediately.
    • If there is a lot of blood going down the throat, or if there is swelling of the tongue or throat that could affect breathing, turn your child on their side in a supported position. Call 000.
    • If there is no breathing difficulty and bleeding is slow, help your child become as comfortable as possible.
    • Using a sterile dressing or clean towel (for cut lips, a moist tissue) apply firm but gentle pressure to the bleeding.
    • Take your child to your GP or nearest hospital.

    Dislodged teeth

    If a tooth has come out, and you can locate it, hold it by the crown (white part) and avoid touching the root.

    • If your child is over 10 years, ask them to suck the tooth clean (if it’s really dirty, rinse really quickly in a bowl of warm water). Try and replace the tooth back in the gum to help keep the root alive. Use a folded piece of aluminium foil to hold the tooth in place, ensuring the foil is large enough to cover teeth on either side. Have your child gently bite down on the foil. Take your child to a dentist or hospital immediately in order to save the tooth.
    • If your child is under 10, store the tooth in a clean container in a little milk. (Note: baby teeth won’t be reimplanted if they are knocked out). Take your child to a dentist or hospital immediately in order to save the tooth.

    Looking after teeth

    Losing baby teeth

    Your child will start losing baby teeth around six years old. Let loose teeth fall out on their own – if you try to pull out a tooth before it’s ready to fall out, it can snap, which can cause pain and infection.

    Sometimes an adult tooth will come through before the baby tooth has fallen out. If the baby tooth hasn’t fallen out within two to three months, see your dentist.

    Food and drink

    Healthy choices for food and drink will help look after your child’s teeth. Steer clear of giving your child sugary snacks or drinks, especially between meals. Avoid giving your child a bottle of milk, formula or juice in bed – take away bottles after feeding.


    It’s important to get children in the habit of looking after and brushing their teeth.

    Your child’s teeth need brushing twice a day with a small, soft toothbrush and water. From 18 months to six years, you can use a pea-sized amount of low-fluoride toothpaste.

    Key points to remember

    • If your child is having trouble breathing, or if there is a lot of blood or swelling, call 000.
    • Apply firm but gentle pressure to bleeding.
    • Replace a dislodged tooth, or keep it in a little milk, and head to the nearest hospital.

    More information


    Developed by Community Information in consultation with the Department of Dentistry. First published 2017.

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This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.