Is it Dangerous to Swallow a Tooth?

Swallowing a tooth can happen when your child’s tooth is loose, during a sporting event or in an injury. A baby tooth, also called primary tooth, is smooth and small enough for your child to swallow without noticing it. Sometimes, a swallowed tooth can be a serious concern for small children. What happens if you swallow a tooth? Should you seek medical help?

Are teeth digestible?

Generally, a tooth is digestible. If an object like a tooth can pass from the narrowest part of the digestive tract, it will most likely pass with no problem. However, in case your child swallows a tooth, monitor him or her for signs of problems, and seek your doctor’s advice.

What happens if you swallow a tooth?

Around 93% of swallowed foreign objects do enter your Gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Nearly only 8% find their way into the tracheobronchial tree, which is considered a medical emergency. No matter the pathway after ingestion, it is essential to seek medical attention if you or your child has any of the following symptoms:

  • Neck or chest pain
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Recurring vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever or drooling
  • Blood present in vomit or stool

If you swallow any foreign object like a tooth, it may not show up immediately on an X-ray, and you may need to undergo an endoscopy.

Prevention is always better than treatment

Even with much effort, it is not always possible to prevent swallowing a tooth. But if your little champ is losing his baby teeth, there are some steps you can take to ensure the swallowing doesn’t happen.

  1. Instruct your child to notify you if they think the tooth is about to come loose, so you can assist them.
  2. Chewing can trigger an extraction. During mealtime, remind your child to be careful when biting down with a loose tooth, so they can avoid swallowing it.

If your child swallowed a tooth, don’t worry much, it should digest within 24 to 48 hours.

For emergency dental care, contact Brenham Family Dental at 979-421-9685.

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