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What to Do if a Tooth is Knocked Out

It can be difficult to think clearly in the moments following one of your teeth being knocked out. However, acting swiftly and correctly can make the difference between saving and losing the tooth for good, so it’s important that you’ve got a clear understanding of how to act if it happens to you. We’ll take you through the steps you need to take in the immediate aftermath of having a tooth knocked out, so you can put yourself in the best position to save­ your displaced tooth.

Find the tooth

First things first: find the tooth. Obviously, you can’t replant the tooth without finding it, so in situations where the tooth has been lost, a denture, implant or bridge will be used as a replacement. It’s also important that the tooth doesn’t get too dirty, as can be the case from prolonged exposure to the ground, which is why you should try to find it as quickly as possible.

Rinse it off

If the tooth is dirty, you’ll need to rinse it with water. As you’re rinsing it off, there’s a couple of things you need to bear in mind:

  • Don’t wash it for more than a couple of seconds.
  • Don’t use soap, detergent or any other sort of cleaning product.
  • Don’t scrub the tooth, try to clean it with a washcloth or handle it too roughly.
  • If you’re comfortable doing so, you can lick the dirt off your tooth rather than wash it with tap water.

Hold it properly

When you hold the tooth, be sure to hold it from the crown (the upper part of the tooth) and not the root (the part of your tooth that’s below the gum line). This is because you can crush the root cells by applying too much pressure, which can make replanting the tooth impossible.

Replant the tooth into the socket

This is the most important part of the entire process. Replanting the tooth into the socket gives you a much better chance of saving it, especially if you are able to replant it within five minutes of the tooth being knocked out.

  • Push it carefully but firmly into the socket with your fingers. You may need to apply some pressure in order to move any blood which may have accumulated within the socket.
  • Hold it in place with your fingers, a piece of wet tissue, or gently bite down onto it to keep it in place.

One exception to this is when it comes to baby teeth. There’s no real need to replant the tooth, since the adult tooth will come through anyway.  Be careful, because attempting to replant a baby tooth can damage the socket permanently.

Store it somewhere moist

If you’re unable to replant the tooth into the socket, you’ll need to store the tooth somewhere moist. Allowing the tooth to dry out can be fatal for your chances of saving it. Some alternatives to the tooth socket include:

  • Your mouth, next to the cheek (make sure that you don’t swallow it).
  • A glass of milk.
  • An emergency tooth preservation kit.

Whatever you do, try not to store the tooth in a glass of tap water. This can be damaging to the root surface cells, and will mean that the tooth is unable to be saved.

Contact an emergency dentist

You should do this as soon as possible, or have someone else do it for you while you replant the tooth. Receiving treatment from a dentist within an hour of the tooth being knocked out can be the decisive factor when it comes to saving it. After you arrive at the dentist, they’ll replant the tooth before performing a root canal. Often the root canal will happen immediately, although in some cases the dentist will wait to perform it. Your replanted tooth will also be splinted in order to hold it in place.

Had a tooth knocked out? Contact 1-800-DENTIST and get an appointment with a local emergency dentist today.