It is a nightmare come true. You have unexpectedly lost a tooth due to an injury or accident. Do you know what to do if you knock a tooth out? Five million teeth are knocked out each year in both children and adults. Losing a tooth due to impact does not mean it’s lost forever. With proper emergency dental care, your tooth can be replanted to restore your natural smile.

Below are tips you should follow if you or a loved one has knocked out a tooth.

  • Confirm if the lost tooth is an adult tooth or baby tooth. Baby teeth cannot be replanted, so no need to turn the situation into an emergency. You’ll just have to wait until the adult tooth grows in to take its place.
  • Do not touch the root of the tooth. If the tooth is on the ground, be sure to pick it up by the crown (chewing surface). The tooth contains living fibers and ligaments that are vital for healing and can be damaged if handled improperly.
  • If the tooth is dirty, rinse it gently with clean tap water. Do not use soap, do not scrub, do not dry and do not wrap the tooth as these actions can damage the root.
  • Once clean, immediately place the tooth back in the empty socket. Be sure to handle the tooth by the crown and gently put it back in place.
  • It is important to keep the tooth moist at all times. If you cannot place the tooth back in the socket, put the tooth in a cup of milk. Milk contains protein, antibacterial substances, sugars and maintain a constant acid-to-alkaline ratio to keep the tooth cells growing.
  • Go to an emergency dentist right away.

Time is of the Essence

If you knock a tooth out it is important to act quickly. As long as you follow the tips mentioned above, there is a good chance you can save your lost tooth. If the tooth is placed back in its socket within 5 minutes, the survival rate is fairly high. There continues to be a good chance of survival within an hour, and a successful replant is not unheard of if the timing surpasses an hour. However, the sooner you are able to get to an emergency dentist, the better.

Prevention is Important

Some accidents are unavoidable, however if you knock a tooth out while playing a sport or training there are likely ways you could have avoided the incident. Wearing a mouth guard can help reduce the risk of sports-related dental injuries, including knocked out teeth. According to the American Dental Association, “mouth guard users were between 82% and 93% less likely to suffer dentofacial injuries”. To be safe, it’s best to wear a mouth guard during both contact and non-contact activities and exercises. And remember, not all mouth guards are created equally. Your dentist will be able to create a custom mouth guard  fit to your unique pallet.