According to the American Association of Endodontists, more than five million teeth are knocked out each year. Most knocked-out tooth events happen when there is either a physical altercation, a sporting accident, or an unfortunate type of accident, such as a slip and fall. Regardless of whether you’ve knocked your entire tooth out or you’ve just broken off a piece of it, immediate action is critical if you want to preserve the tooth.
How dire of an emergency is a knocked out or broken-off tooth? It depends on whether or not the tooth was a permanent one or a baby tooth. If it was a baby tooth, then there’s not too much to worry about since you were going to lose the tooth sooner or later anyways. However, if it was a permanent tooth, then it’s considered a dental emergency.
A knocked-out or broken-off tooth can be saved and reinserted into the mouth in many cases. However, reinsertions tend to be the most successful if they are conducted within half an hour of the tooth being knocked out. That’s why knowing what to do if you have a knocked-out tooth and taking immediate action can make the difference in salvaging your tooth or losing it for good.
The following steps can help you properly collect the tooth for preservation:
- Locate the tooth. Make sure to gather the entire tooth or all the fragments of the tooth.
- Hold the tooth by the crown. When you handle the tooth, be sure to touch only the crown of the tooth and avoid touching the root. The root of a tooth is much more fragile and susceptible to damage. Hold the tooth as gently as possible. With tooth fragments, try to only touch the outside crown parts of them rather than the interior parts.
- Rinse the tooth. Holding the tooth by the crown, rinse it off in lukewarm water. Be sure to plug the drain first to avoid accidentally washing the tooth down the drain. Don’t use any soap and don’t dry the tooth or wrap it in anything.
- Place it back in the socket, if possible. If it is a permanent tooth, attempt to place the tooth back into the socket as accurately as possible. Bite down on some sterile gauze or a clean cloth to hold the tooth in place and stop the bleeding. Don’t attempt to put a baby tooth back in the socket; it can cause damage to the permanent tooth beneath it. This is a temporary measure until you reach a dental office or emergency room.
- Put it in a cup of milk or saliva. If you are unable to put the tooth back into the socket, place the tooth in a cup of saliva or milk. Only use water as a last resort, as water can damage the tooth over time.
- Seek immediate assistance. Contact us. Give us a call at (352) 404-5550 during regular office hours. If our office is closed, call our after-hours emergency dental helpline at (407) 494-3636. We will provide you with instructions and make immediate arrangements to see you in our office. Please bring the tooth with you so that we can do our best to put it back into place.
How Long Can the Tooth be Out Before it Can’t Be Saved?
From the time the tooth is knocked out, you only have about 30 minutes to have the tooth put back into place and professionally treated. If the tooth stays out longer than 30 minutes there’s a much lower chance that it will be saved. Keeping it properly moistened is important because once the tooth dries out it can no longer be placed back in the socket with success.
If I Put the Tooth Back in the Socket, Do I Still Need to Seek Treatment?
Even if you successfully put the tooth back in place, you should still seek professional treatment. This ensures that the tooth is in the correct position. You may also need stitches or a splint to hold the tooth steady while the natural support structures heal and reattach.
Will the Tooth Need a Root Canal?
Sometimes a tooth that has sustained trauma of some kind will need root canal treatment. The force applied to the tooth can damage the nerves and blood vessels on the inside of the tooth. A root canal replaces the damaged tissue and seals the tooth to prevent infection.
What if the Tooth is Broken?
If the knocked-out tooth is broken or has a noticeable crack, do not attempt to put the tooth back in the socket. Place it in saliva or milk and take it with you when you go for treatment.
Advanced Endodontics Provides Emergency Treatment
Whether you have a knocked-out tooth, a severe toothache, a broken tooth, or another dental emergency, Advanced Endodontics will see you as soon as possible to provide the necessary treatment. It is our goal to save your natural tooth and to be there when you need us the most. In most cases, we can take same-day emergency appointments across our multiple locations.
In case of a dental emergency, contact us immediately during regular office hours at (352) 404-5550 or our after-hours emergency dental helpline at (407) 494-3636.