Accidents happen -- even to the best of us. Taking a spill, getting hit with a surprise fly ball, or an unfortunate run-in with the door can all result in the dreaded knocked out tooth. If you think your missing tooth is simply an eyesore, think again: What you don't know about knocking out your tooth can hurt you.
It's important to understand that it's crucial to see your dentist right away if your tooth has been knocked out; putting off dental treatment can result in the permanent loss of your tooth. Getting and staying proactive is the key to your success. For those times that worse comes to worst, however, taking action -- and quickly! -- is important.
What should you do in the face of a knocked out tooth? If the tooth is knocked out of its socket, but is not broken, it's often possible for the doctor to re-implant it.
Follow these three steps -- in order -- and you'll have a much greater chance of saving your tooth:
1. Hold your tooth by the crown and, if it's dirty, rinse off the root of the tooth. Don't remove any attached tissue fragments or touch the root -- doing so can damage the ligament.
2. If possible, put the tooth in its socket and hold it there by lightly biting down on gauze or a moistened tea bag to keep it in place. If you're unable to replace the tooth, try putting it in milk, warm salt water, your own saliva, or between your gum and cheek.
3. Call your dentist immediately and provide him or her with as much detail as possible about your situation. Most dentists reserve time in their daily schedules for dental emergency patients, but if you're not able to get to an emergency dentist right away, head to the nearest emergency room...with your tooth. Successful reimplementation is more likely if the tooth is in its socket within about 30 minutes.
Preventing a Knock Out
Your smile is precious -- protect it and care for it: Never open packages with your teeth. Can't pry the top off a bottle? Try a bottle opener rather than your choppers. Avoid chewing ice, popcorn kernels and hard candy, all of which can crack a tooth.
If you know or even think you may be putting your teeth in harm's way, see your dentist about getting a mouthguard, which can minimize the chances of damage. A mouthguard is great protection during sporting events or rough-and-tumble recreational activities. Keep in mind that wearing a mouthguard or night guard reduces the chances of injury not only to your teeth, but also to your lips, cheek and tongue. And while wearing one may feel a little funny at first, it feels a whole lot better than losing a tooth!