If a tooth gets knocked out there’s a chance it can be reimplanted if you act quickly. What should you do if a tooth gets knocked out?
If the lost tooth is a baby tooth, it does not need to be reimplanted in most cases. This article will deal with the loss of an unbroken permanent tooth.
Assess the Situation. If someone gets a tooth knocked out, it is most important to be sure there are no other injuries. If there are no more serious injuries present, it is time to take steps to save the missing tooth.
Call your dentist and see if he or she can get you in for a dental emergency. If you do not have a dentist or one is not available, contact your local emergency room to see if they handle dental emergencies or can give you a referral. The best chances of reimplanting the tooth are within 30 minutes of the tooth being knocked out. Even if it will be longer than 30 minutes, every effort should be made to save the tooth.
Find the Tooth that Was Knocked Out. Try to find the knocked-out tooth so a dentist can attempt to reimplant it. Be very careful with the tooth. Do not touch the root of the tooth, only handle it by the crown. This will prevent further root and nerve damage to the tooth.
If the tooth cannot be found or is in too many pieces, control bleeding with a clean handkerchief, a damp piece of gauze or even a wet tea bag.
Care of the Knocked-Out Tooth. Do not brush or wipe off the tooth even if it is dirty. This will cause too much damage to the root. The tooth may be rinsed in milk or saline solution. Water should only be used as a last resort as chlorine can damage the root.
You should try to put it back into the socket if you can. The tooth should be placed in the right direction into the socket and pressed firmly. You can then bite down gently on a handkerchief, damp gauze or wet teabag until reaching the dentist.
This may not be possible with a young child who may accidentally swallow or inhale the tooth. Also, if the tooth does not go into the socket easily, you will have to use a different method to transport it to the dentist.
Transporting the Knocked-Out Tooth. If the tooth won’t go back into the socket, the best place to carry the tooth is in the mouth between the gum and cheek or even under the tongue. If the person who lost the tooth is unable because of age or reluctance, a parent or other willing adult can carry the tooth in their own mouth.
If the tooth can’t be carried in a mouth, place in a small container and cover with milk, saline or saliva. Do not let the root of the knocked-out tooth get dry. You can buy a tooth saver kit from your dentist’s office to keep in your home first aid kit for just such emergencies.
Keep firm pressure on the gums by biting down on a clean handkerchief, gauze or wet tea bag. This will reduce bleeding and pain on the way to the dentist office.
At the Dentist. The dentist may try to reimplant the tooth that was knocked out. The dentist will secure the tooth temporarily to other teeth while the ligaments in the socket grow back around the root. This usually takes about two weeks.
If the tooth is also broken, you can discuss replacement options with your dentist. You may have to use this option if reimplantation methods fail.
Future Concerns after a Tooth Has Been Knocked Out. Even if the tooth was reimplanted successfully, it is important to follow up with your dentist on a regular basis. The root may have been damaged beyond what was visible at the time. A root canal may need to be done after reimplanting the tooth that was knocked out, even years later.
There is also a chance that even a future root canal will not save the tooth. If the root had too much damage, it could deteriorate over time, even if it was reimplanted successfully. Continuing dental care is important, especially if a tooth was knocked out.
LOSING A PERMANENT TOOTH IS A DENTAL EMERGENCY. SEEK THE ADVICE OF A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL IMMEDIATELY IF A TOOTH IS KNOCKED OUT.
Jack D. Rosenburg, DDS; Broken or Knocked Out Tooth; Medline Plus
Colgate World of Care; Steps to Save a Knocked-Out Tooth
WebMD; Treatment for Broken or Knocked-Out Teeth