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.
- Instruct your child to notify you if they think the tooth is about to come loose, so you can assist them.
- 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.