What do I do if a tooth gets knocked out?

We’re all at risk for having a tooth knocked out.  More than 5 million teeth are knocked out every year!  If we know how to handle this emergency situation, we may be able to actually save the tooth.  Teeth that are knocked out may be possibly reimplanted if we act quickly, yet calmly, and follow these simple steps:

  1. Locate the tooth and handle it only by the crown (chewing part of the tooth), NOT by the roots.

  2. DO NOT scrub or use soap or chemicals to clean the tooth.  If it has dirt or debris on it, rinse it gently with your own saliva or whole milk.  If that is not possible, rinse it very gently with water.

  3. Get to a dentist within 30 minutes.  The longer you wait, the less chance there is for successful reimplantation.  Even if a tooth can successfully be reimplanted, the tooth will likely need a root canal to prevent an infection in the future.

Ways to transport the tooth

  • Try to replace the tooth back in its socket immediately.  Gently bite down on gauze, a wet tea bag or on your own teeth to keep the tooth in place.  Apply a cold compress to the mouth for pain and swelling as needed.

  • If the tooth cannot be placed back into the socket, place the tooth in a container and cover with a small amount of your saliva or whole milk.  You can also place the tooth under your tongue or between your lower lip and gums.  Keep the tooth moist at all times.  Do not transport the tooth in a tissue or cloth.

  • Consider buying a “Save-A-Tooth” storage container and keeping it as part of your home first aid kit.  The kit is available in many pharmacies and contains a travel case and fluid solution for easy tooth transport.

The sooner the tooth is replaced back into the socket, the greater the likelihood it has to survive and possibly last for many years.  So be prepared, and remember these simple steps for saving a knocked-out tooth.

You can prevent broken or knocked-out teeth by:

  • Wearing a mouthguard when playing sports

  • Always wearing your seatbelt

  • Avoiding fights

  • Avoid chewing hard items such as ice, popcorn kernels, hard breads, etc.

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