A knocked-out permanent tooth is one of the few real emergency situations in dentistry. Knocking a tooth out may seem like a traumatic event, but the truth is that it happens all the time among active people of all ages. When a tooth is knocked out, the damaged nerves and blood vessels cannot be saved, but the bone and tissues that normally cover the root can be reattached.
By taking quick action and following a few simple protocols, you can increase the odds of your dentist being able to save your tooth after it has been knocked out. Here the team at Turnagain Dental in Anchorage, Alaska explains what you should do.
What to Do if a Tooth Gets Knocked Out
Identify if it is a permanent tooth or a baby tooth. Primary (or “baby teeth”) should NOT be replanted.
Save and clean
It is important to retrieve and save the tooth. Pick up the tooth by the crown (white part) only. Avoid touching the root. To clean a tooth, it is advisable to hold it by the crown and rinse the root under cold, running water for 10 seconds. Do not wipe the tooth with a cloth or other material since that can contaminate it or damage the fragile part of the tooth root that normally sits below the gum.
Keep the tooth moist
If you can safely put the tooth back into the socket, even if there is blood, do so. If available, place the tooth in a glass of milk. Avoid putting the tooth in water. If milk is unavailable, adults can transport the tooth in the mouth, between the cheek and gums to help preserve it until the dentist can replace it.
What Your Dentist Will Do
To ensure a sterile procedure, the dentist will first flush out the tooth socket with water. Depending on how long the tooth was out of the socket, it may be necessary to perform a root canal to ensure that the tissues in the mouth are able to reconnect with the tooth itself.
The final part of the procedure requires stabilizing the repaired tooth by attaching a soft wire or composite splint to the adjacent teeth. The stabilization needs to stay in place for several days before it is removed.
A successful re-insertion of a knocked-out tooth will take time to heal and your dentist will evaluate you at specific intervals along the way during your healing process.