What to Do When You Knock Out a Tooth

A knocked-out tooth can be saved if you act quickly
A knocked-out tooth can be saved if you act quickly

According to the American Association of Endodontists, more than 5 million teeth are knocked out each year, with the affected patients spanning all age ranges. Knocking out a tooth is a painful experience and can be very frightening, particularly for children, but most knocked out teeth can be saved and returned to their proper place is the right measures are quickly taken.

To save a tooth that has been knocked out, the following steps should be taken immediately:
Pick up the tooth by the crown. The crown of the tooth is the chewing surface that is always visible even when the tooth is properly in the jaw. Touching it by the root can contaminate or cause further damage to any tissue still attached to the tooth, which needs to be preserved in order to ensure the tooth’s restoration.

If the tooth has become dirty, gently rinse it with lukewarm water. Again, be very careful not to disturb any tissue clinging to the root. NEVER clean a dislodged tooth with soap, and don’t scrub or dry it. These actions will remove and destroy living residual tissue.

Place the tooth back in its proper position in the gum socket as soon as possible. The more quickly this happens, the greater the chances of saving the tooth. Gum and root tissues naturally want to heal and repair the bond to the tooth, and this will begin the moment the tooth is back in its rightful place. If returning the tooth to the mouth is not immediately possible (for example, if the victim is unconscious and would swallow the tooth, or was taken to the hospital to treat other injuries while the tooth or teeth were being located), proceed to the next step.

If the tooth cannot be immediately repositioned in the gums, taking the right steps to preserve it will still help the chances of its restoration. Keeping the tooth moist is imperative to the survival of the necessary cells and tissue. There are kits made specifically for preserving teeth until they can be returned to the gums, but people who aren’t trained paramedics may not have them. The next best thing is to preserve the tooth in milk. Wetting or soaking the tooth in tap water is not recommended due to the chemicals added to water to sterilize it, and the general intolerance of root surface cells to water.

Knocking out a tooth is scary but treatable
Knocking out a tooth is scary but treatable

See a dentist, endodontist, or oral surgeon within 30 minutes of the injury, or as quickly as one is available. Go to the emergency room if necessary, but try to find an emergency dentist. Speed is the most important factor in how well and completely the tooth can recover and reset itself in the jaw. Teeth have been saved an hour or more after being knocked out, but don’t delay for any reason other than the actual wait for treatment– every minute the tooth is displaced, the root cells are dying and the gum cells in the mouth are sealing off the injury.

Infinite Dental Wellness provides emergency dental services for standard fees during regular business hours, and outside of regular business hours for a slight premium. Call our line at 818-839-9494 immediately if you have lost a tooth!