How To Save A Knocked Out Tooth
If you have a tooth knocked out due to an accident, you can save the tooth by staying calm, acting quickly & following these steps.
Do you know what to do if you or your child has their tooth knocked out in an accident? This scenario is considered a true dental emergency, and acting fast might save the tooth!
Trauma due to sports or other accidents can often fracture a tooth, or in rare cases, the entire tooth can be dislodged with the root intact! While this is more likely to happen with children, even an adult can lose a tooth this way.
By being prepared, staying calm, and making the right decisions, you might prevent permanent tooth loss.
Of course, prevention is much better than treatment, so if you or your child plays sports, talk to your dentist about wearing a mouth guard to help prevent dental trauma.
What To Do When A Tooth Gets Knocked Out
The tooth should be picked up by the part called “the crown“, which should be more white than the rest. Do NOT touch the root of the tooth if at all possible!
Do NOT scrub the tooth or wash it with soap. The root is surrounded by a ligament that is vital to the tooth’s ability to re-attach to the gums. This ligament should NOT be scrubbed away, even if there is dirt or debris on the tooth. You may lightly rinse the tooth with water.
The tooth should not remain dry. The best way to store the tooth is NOT in water, however. Many school nurses and athletic trainers keep a solution called Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution, or HBBS, which is a safe choice for storage of the tooth until you can see a dentist. Milk makes a good solution as well. Water is better than nothing as a last option for tooth storage. The best way to store the tooth is in saliva, however.
Placing the tooth back into its socket immediately is the most ideal action, if you are able to do so.
Finally, the faster you can see a dentist, the better! If your dentist has an emergency phone line, they may agree to see you after hours. Seeing a dentist within an hour gives the tooth the best chance, but it is still possible to save the tooth if it takes longer.
What To Expect At The Dentist
Your dentist will perform an exam to check for damage to the jaw bone and other tissues, administer anesthetic, and reposition your tooth properly.
In some cases, the tooth may not need any special treatment, and may re-attach to the gums normally! Your dentist will splint, or attach the tooth to surrounding teeth temporarily to help it stay in place, as well as prescribing you antibiotics to avoid infection.
If the tooth was in dirt, it may be advisable to see a physician for a tetanus shot.
A root canal may be necessary to avoid infection, so your dentist will schedule follow-up appointments to keep a close eye on the tooth.
What About A Broken Tooth?
DO Find the tooth and pick it up by the crown (the white part), not the root
DON’T scrub the tooth, especially the root! This part contains an important ligament that is vital to the life of the tooth. You may rinse it very lightly with water
DON’T leave the tooth dry. The best liquids to store the tooth in are:
- Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution (carried by most school nurses, etc)
- Your own saliva
DO re-implant the tooth if you can! The sooner the tooth can be returned to its socket, the greater the chance that the tooth will survive and re-attach itself. Remember not to try to scrub it clean, your dentist will prescribe an antibiotic to prevent infection.
DO rush to see your dentist, preferably in less than an hour! Dentists understand that this is one of the most time-sensitive dental emergencies, so if your dentist has an after-hours line, they may be able to help you even if they aren’t open. The faster the tooth can be properly re-implanted and splinted, the better the outcome will be.
Check out the link in the bio for more details on treatment for a knocked out tooth