A knocked-out tooth is a medical emergency, and knowing the right steps to take can make the difference between saving or losing a tooth. Our blog contains all the information you need if you’re unlucky enough for it to happen to you or your child.
Time is of the essence with a knocked-out tooth, so the most important thing to remember is to stay calm, act quickly and take the right action to protect and save the tooth.
DO: stay calm
Losing a tooth is traumatic and alarming, but keeping calm is really important and will help you stay focused on the action you should take.
DO: seek emergency medical treatment if necessary
If you or your child has sustained a blow to the head, is unconscious, dizzy or nauseous, or you have any other concerns about your or your child’s health, seek urgent medical advice without delay.
DO: find an emergency dentist
If the tooth is knocked out during working hours, your dental practice may be able to see you immediately. Otherwise, they should tell you where and how you can access emergency dental treatment. Dental practices often include this information on their website, and on an answering machine during out-of-office hours.
An emergency dentist will quickly assess the situation and take the right action to give the best possible chance of saving the tooth.
DO: prevent excessive bleeding
If there is bleeding from the tooth socket, grab a clean handkerchief, gauze pad, towel or other clean piece of cloth, place it over the hole and ask them to bite down on the fabric to keep it securely in place for at least 10 minutes. This should both help stem the bleeding and help with the pain.
DON’T: handle the tooth by the root
Do hold the tooth by the crown – the top, or enamel part, not the root. If you touch the root it could cause permanent damage which could prevent it from re-attaching. Problems with root damage is one of the main reasons knocked-out teeth fail to re-implant.
DO: carefully clean a dirty tooth before reinsertion
If the tooth is dirty, hold it by the crown and rinse with either saline (salt water) or milk. If none is available, rinse in tepid tap water.
DON’T: clean the tooth by brushing or scrubbing
Brushing or scrubbing could easily damage the sensitive root. Always hold the tooth by the crown, and handle it as little as possible to give it the best chance of survival.
DON’T: use clove oil, or take aspirin
Never clean the tooth or the socket with clove oil. Taking aspirin can cause difficulties with the tooth re-attaching, so avoid taking any painkillers without medical advice.
DO: reinsert the (adult) tooth as quickly as possible
The most important thing when dealing with a knocked-out tooth in an adult is to try and reinsert it as quickly as possible, ideally within ten minutes. This gives the greatest chance of saving the tooth.
If you can’t replace the tooth in its socket, hold it in your mouth, under your tongue or between your gum and cheek. Otherwise, place it in a glass of milk, or in a container of your own saliva. The most common reason a tooth fails to re-implant is because the root has been allowed to dry out, which damages the cells.
DON’T: reinsert a child’s MILK tooth
However, don’t attempt to reinsert a child’s knocked-out tooth if it is a milk tooth – the new adult tooth will simply come through naturally in time. Your dentist will be able to advise you.
DO: follow up emergency dental treatment appointments
A knocked-out tooth is a serious dental emergency, and your tooth will need careful monitoring over to ensure it re-implants successfully. Make sure you follow up all the dental appointments as recommended by your dentist in the weeks and months which follow for the best chance of a successful outcome.
DO: get a sports mouthguard if playing contact sports
Do all you can to avoid a knocked-out tooth in the future. A custom-made sports mouthguard is essential if you or your child plays any contact or high-risk sport, such as rugby, football, hockey or cricket. Off-the-shelf, mouldable mouthguards are also available but they are not as protective as a custom-made guard Your dentist will be able to advise you.
A knocked-out tooth is a traumatic experience, but by taking prompt action you can increase the chance of an adult tooth reattaching successfully.
If your knocked-out tooth is not saveable, then, a dental implant is a permanent option to replace missing teeth available. Please contact us for more information about the dental implant procedure offered by our sister practice, James Main Dental.