If you’re like many people, one of your worst fears is likely to have a permanent tooth knocked out. Although you might never expect it to happen to you, over 5 million children and adults lose a tooth from injury or accident annually. If you suddenly find yourself in this unexpected situation, do you know what to do? Here are 5 steps to take if you have a knocked-out tooth.
Contrary to what you might have heard, there are times a knocked-out tooth can stay alive if you act quickly. Besides getting to the nearest dentist or endodontist within the next 30 minutes, here’s what you can do at home to save your tooth:
1. Only Touch the Crown
When handling the tooth, you don’t want to touch the root. Only hold it by the chewing surface, called the crown.
2. Rinse Your Tooth
While holding it by the crown, carefully rinse your tooth with water to get rid of any dirt. You don’t want to use any soaps or chemicals, including toothpaste. Don’t scrub it or dry it off.
3. Reinsert Your Tooth
Although you might be hesitant, the viability of your tooth relies on getting it back into the socket as quickly as possible. As a result, you’ll want to gently push it back in place and close your mouth. Bite on a piece of gauze or hold it with your tongue to prevent it from moving.
4. Keep the Tooth Moist
If you couldn’t put the tooth back in its socket, it must be always kept moist, or it will die. It’s best to place the tooth in a closed container filled with milk. If you don’t have any milk on hand, don’t use tap water because it will negatively affect the root surface cells. Instead, place it in your mouth next to your cheek to prevent it from drying out.
5. Get to Your Dentist
You need to see an emergency dentist within 30 minutes. In some cases, a knocked-out tooth can survive for up to an hour if it’s not in your mouth, but you’ll still need to move quickly. Your dentist will do everything they can to preserve your tooth. If it can’t be saved, they’ll discuss your replacement options, like a dental implant.
You can’t always prevent a knocked-out tooth, but you can lessen your risk of one by wearing an athletic mouthguard while playing sports. The custom-fit appliance will provide a barrier to protect your teeth, gums, jaw, and other oral tissues. You’ll invest in the power of protection to avoid an unplanned trip to your dentist.