What to do when a tooth is knocked out

Knocking out a tooth is considered a dental emergency. Quick action and proper care can save the tooth–meaning it can be replanted successfully and part of your smile for years to come.

Best estimates indicate that over five million teeth are knocked out every year! Dental accidents and injuries in children and adults are unfortunate, but not uncommon. Quick action and proper emergency care can save the tooth—meaning it can be replanted successfully and part of your smile for years to come.  

If you or your loved one knocks out a tooth, follow these tooth-saving steps:             

1. Pick up the tooth. Carefully pick up the tooth by the crown (the part that you chew with) NOT the root. Touching the root of the tooth can cause further damage and make it harder for your dentist to fix. 

2.  Clean the tooth. Gently rise the tooth under low-pressure water to remove dirt and debris.  

3. If it’s an adult tooth, do some improvised dental work. If possible, reposition the tooth immediately. Hold the tooth by the crown and gently place it back in the socket. Then close your mouth slowly. You can hold the tooth in place with your fingers or gently bite down.

Do not try to re-insert a baby tooth as you might damage the adult tooth coming in underneath. Take your child and his or her tooth to the dentist right away! 

4. Keep it moist. The best way to keep your tooth moist is by placing it back in its proper place or holding it against your cheek. Avoid tap water as it can damage the root. If your young child has knocked out his/her tooth or you are unable to reposition an adult tooth, place it in a glass of milk while you travel to the dentist. 

5. Go for help. Most importantly, if a tooth is knocked out, act fast! Connecting with the nearest dentist or endodontist (a dental provider who specializes in saving teeth) within 30 minutes can greatly improve the chances of saving the tooth. While it’s best to seek emergency care within 30 minutes of having lost a tooth, it is possible to save a tooth even if it has been outside the mouth for an hour or more.  

What to expect when you arrive 

If you put the tooth back in yourself, the dentist will likely take an x-ray to see if it’s in the correct position. Then they will splint the affected tooth to the healthy teeth beside it to hold it in position. The splint will remain in place for about two weeks. This technique temporarily attaches the tooth to keep it in place. 

If you were unable to reposition the tooth, the dentist will numb the area and carefully place the tooth back in its socket. They will then take an x-ray and split the tooth. 

If you are unable to locate the lost tooth, the dentist will fill the space with a denture, bridge or implant. These options will improve the appearance of your smile and help restore your confidence. Speak with your dentist about all of your options to decide what is best for you. 

Broken or Chipped Teeth 

If your tooth has broken, try to locate the lost portion, store it in milk and visit your dentist as soon as possible. The dentist might be able to reattach the fragment. If you can’t locate the missing piece, your dentist will use tooth-colored filling material to build the tooth up. If the tooth is badly broken, it might require additional treatment. 

Dental emergencies happen, and being prepared can make all the difference! It is important to have a trusted and experienced dentist in your corner. RefuahHealth provides emergency dental care daily, including after-hours coverage through an on-call dental provider. We specialize in treating toothaches, knocked-out and cracked teeth, lost filling or crown, dental abscesses and swelling in the cheeks or gums, among other urgent conditions.

In case of an emergency, call the RefuahHealth Dental Department today at 845.354.9300. 

Sources: NHS Inform – Broken or knocked-out tooth