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What is a tooth avulsion?

A knocked-out tooth (known technically as a tooth avulsion) is one of the most common dental injuries, as well as one of the most serious. They can be traumatic, but it’s important to remember that an avulsion isn’t untreatable as long as you act quickly. We’ll explore the ins and outs of tooth avulsion, including what causes them, what you can do before you get to your dentist and the type of treatment that you can expect to receive.

What is it?

A tooth avulsion is defined by the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry as “the complete displacement of a tooth out of its socket.” In other words, it’s when one of your permanent teeth is knocked out. You can save the tooth and replant it into the socket if you act fast. However, delaying emergency care will make this impossible.

What causes a tooth avulsion?

Any sort of trauma has the potential to cause a tooth avulsion. They’re relatively common sporting injuries, occurring frequently with children and young people as a result, but a tooth avulsion can be caused by a wide range of traumas to the face or mouth.

What can I do?

After a tooth has avulsed, immediate treatment is absolutely vital. The most critical factor in determining whether the tooth can be saved is time. Ideally, you should receive professional treatment within one hour of the avulsion. This means that your first act should always be to get in touch with your dentist and book an emergency appointment. Next, you need to be extremely careful with how you handle the avulsed tooth:

  • Hold the tooth with care and be sure not to touch the root of the avulsed tooth (the part of the tooth which is beneath the gum) as it is very delicate and can be easily damaged. When you pick the tooth up, make sure that you are holding it by the crown.
  • If the avulsed tooth is dirty, wash it with either milk or water. Be sure not to wash the tooth with water for more than a couple of seconds.
  • Immediately replanting your avulsed tooth gives you the best chance of saving it. In some cases, the tooth will fit comfortably into its socket. However, it’s important not to force anything, so if the tooth doesn’t fit, just keep it in something moist (a glass of milk is the best option) and make sure that you get to your dentist as soon as you can.

What are my treatment options?

The procedure to put your tooth back into place can vary, and sometimes it simply isn’t possible to save the tooth. The course of treatment will differ depending on whether the tooth was replanted prior to arriving at the dentist or whether it’s been stored in something else, as well as how long it’s been since the tooth avulsion and whether the tooth has an open or closed apex.

  • When you get to the clinic, you’ll be examined for head trauma and facial fractures in order to determine whether you need to visit a hospital.
  • The dentist will generally flush debris from the socket with water.
  • After this, they will attempt to slip your tooth back into place.
  • The dentist may perform a root canal immediately, or attempt to splint the tooth on either side with wire or some other type of composite material.
  • Assuming that the bone has not been fractured, the root of the avulsed tooth should be able to reattach to the bone within a couple of weeks.
  • You should receive a check-up after three to six months, as well as periodic checkups up to three years after the avulsion.  

Don’t delay treatment for your avulsed tooth – time is the difference between saving the tooth and losing it. If you’ve suffered from a tooth avulsion, get in touch with 1-800-DENTIST and book an emergency appointment right away.