Tooth that has become loose, moved, or jammed (intruded) into the gum

It is normal for a baby tooth (primary tooth) to become loose when it is ready to come out. If a baby tooth becomes loose after a minor injury, it will often feel tight again within a few days. Teeth that are slightly loose usually heal well in 1 to 2 weeks. Have your child eat soft foods such as:

  • Milk and dairy products, such as milk shakes, yogurt, custards, ice cream, sherbets, or cottage cheese.
  • Meat and meat substitutes, such as tender meats or chicken, tuna, eggs, or smooth peanut butter.
  • Fruits and vegetables, such as well-cooked or canned fruits and vegetables; well-ripened, easy-to-chew fruits; and baked, mashed, or well-cooked sweet potatoes.

A very loose tooth in a baby or young child could be swallowed. If this occurs, it does not usually cause a problem. The tooth will most often pass through the digestive tract and come out in the toilet. Choking can occur if the child accidentally inhales the tooth instead of swallowing it. Removing the tooth before it falls out can prevent the child from either swallowing or inhaling it.

A baby tooth that has been jammed into the gum (intruded) will usually grow out of the gum in about 6 weeks. However, some dentists will reposition or remove the baby tooth immediately so that it will not affect the top (crown) of the permanent tooth underneath it.

A loose permanent tooth can cause problems. A permanent tooth that has become very loose after an injury needs to be evaluated by a dentist to prevent tooth loss and help the tooth heal. If a tooth becomes loose because of grinding the teeth, the grinding problem can be treated by a dentist to prevent additional injury.

If a permanent tooth has moved after an injury, a dentist will need to put it back into the correct position. This should be done as soon as possible to save the tooth and promote healing. If a tooth has been jammed into the gum (intruded), it may look like it has been knocked out. An X-ray may be needed to tell the difference. A permanent tooth that has been jammed into the gum generally requires treatment.

Last Updated: September 26, 2008

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