You’re playing baseball and the ball comes flying at your face. You hear — and feel — a crack and then notice a space where your tooth just was. Or, you’re walking along the sidewalk when you trip and fall, landing with a thud. You look up and see a tooth on the ground next to you–your tooth.
A knocked out tooth can cause you to panic and should spur you to immediate action. When you knock one of your teeth out, it is considered a dental emergency. Fortunately, losing a tooth to injury doesn’t automatically mean the tooth is gone forever. If you act quickly, your dentist might be able to restore the knocked out tooth to its rightful place in your mouth. Even if the tooth can’t be restored, there are options for replacement so that you can continue to have a beautiful, healthy smile.
Here’s what to do if you have a knocked out tooth and you’re facing a dental emergency.
Wash the Tooth
First of all, it’s super important that you find the tooth. Your dentist will obviously need it in order to restore it inside your mouth.
Once you’ve found the tooth, pick it up by the crown (the part of the tooth that you can usually see in the mouth), not the roots. Rinse it off with either milk or water to remove any dirt or debris. When you’re handling the tooth, steer clear of the roots, as you might damage them. You only want to touch the chewing surface.
Store it Safely
After you’ve rinsed the tooth off, you should store it for safekeeping until you get to the dentist’s office. If an adult’s tooth has been knocked out and the tooth is relatively intact, you can try to put it back in the socket and hold it in place with your tongue until you get to the dentist’s.
If a child has had a tooth knocked out, if the tooth is jagged, or if it can’t go back into the socket, you’ll still want to keep it moist to try and preserve it. To do that, place the tooth in a cup of milk. Don’t put the tooth in water, as regular tap water can cause damage to the roots if it’s in there for too long.
Get to the Dentist
Try to get to the dentist as soon as possible after an injury that causes you to lose a tooth. Getting to the office within 30 minutes of the injury is ideal. Even if you can’t get to the dentist within half an hour, don’t worry. Your dentist might still be able to save the tooth, even if it’s been out of place for more than one hour.
Repositioning a Knocked Out Tooth
How a dentist repositions a lost tooth in the mouth depends on a variety of factors. If the tooth is intact, they might be able to simply place it back into the socket and splint it to neighboring teeth in order to anchor it in place. The tooth’s roots will most likely reattach to the bone on their own after a few days.
There are cases when a dentist will also need to perform a root canal on the tooth to preserve it. To check on the tooth, your dentist will most likely want to see you again in a few months.
Your Options if the Tooth Can’t Be Saved
Sometimes, it’s not possible to save a knocked out tooth. That could be because the injury damaged the tooth severely or because the tooth was out of the mouth for too long.
A dental implant can replace a missing tooth, creating a natural look in your mouth and preserving normal function. Compared to other tooth replacement options like dentures, implants also feel like your natural teeth. They are permanent, so you don’t have to worry about removing them for cleaning at night or needing to replace them at some point in the future.
Stay Calm During a Dental Emergency
Having a tooth knocked out can be a frightening and alarming experience. As long as you act quickly, however, the odds of your tooth being preserved are pretty high. If you’re experiencing a dental emergency, staying calm can help you get through the ordeal and get back to your normal routines quickly.
Dr. John Paul Gallardo is a periodontal specialist in the Miami area who also provides dental cleanings, exams, and dental implants. To learn more about his practice in Miami, FL, call 305-547-8687 to schedule a consultation today.