emergency dentistry

Got a Knocked-Out Tooth? Here’s a Step-by-Step Guide on How You Can Save It

Over five million children and adults experience getting their teeth completely knocked out of their mouth every year, according to the American Association of Endodontists. If this happens to you because of a sports injury or any other accident, it doesn’t mean your tooth is lost for good—especially, if you address it quickly.

When a tooth has been dislodged, the blood vessels, nerves, and soft tissues are damaged irreparably. The bone, however, can still reattach to the root of the tooth once it’s put back into place. So, it is vital to re-implant the avulsed tooth right away. You’ll likely need an emergency root canal to remove the pulp that contains the injured blood vessels, nerves, and soft tissues. You may also need other emergency dental services to prevent further damages to your tooth and the bone.

The faster you act, the higher the chances of saving your tooth. Most dentists say you should see an endodontist or dentist within 30 minutes of the injury. But other than that, timely first-aid is crucial in saving your knocked-out tooth, as well. Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do from the time the tooth falls out until you reach your emergency dentist:

1. Pick up the tooth by the crown.

It is important you locate the tooth immediately. Pick it up carefully by the crown or the chewing surface, not the root. Never touch the root part of the tooth as doing so may affect the reimplantation.

2. Gently rinse the tooth with water.

The knocked-out tooth will likely be dirty, so clean it by gently rinsing off any dirt with water. Do not use soap or chemicals to clean the tooth, and don’t scrub or wrap it in a tissue or cloth, either.

3. If your mouth is bleeding, rinse it with water.

Gently clear away the blood in your mouth using lukewarm water. This will help your dentist to better determine the trauma to your gums and other soft tissues.

4. If possible, put back the tooth in its socket immediately.

If it is possible, place the avulsed tooth back into its socket right away. Hold the tooth by its crown part, and gently push it back to the socket with your fingers. Another technique is to position the tooth above the socket and close your mouth slowly.

5. If you can’t place the tooth back, keep it moist until you get medical support.

The easiest way to keep a dislodged tooth moist and alive is to place it in your mouth, between the cheek and gum. But, if the patient is a young child, they may not safely store the tooth in their mouth—all throughout the waiting time before they get the emergency dental care—without swallowing it. So, the alternative way is to use an emergency tooth preservation kit, which is available over-the-counter. This kit contains a sterile balanced salt solution (BSS) that is ideal for preserving a tooth until the child gets to an emergency dentist.

Once you have accomplished these steps, let your dentist do the rest of the treatment steps to re-implant your knocked-out tooth. Your dentist will likely examine your tooth again in three to six months after the procedure. Unless there are signs of infection, the next visit will be at your yearly checkup. Expect your dentist to follow up for the next two to three years to ensure that your tooth was re-implanted successfully.