Dental emergencies happen when you least expect them. Knowing what you can do when they do occur, however, can help you stay calm and take the necessary steps to help. One of the most surprising of these emergencies is the unexpected and sudden knock-out of a tooth.
Traumatic as it may be, when you or a family member knocks out a tooth, you may be able to save it. Much will depend on where you are and the circumstances surrounding the event that led to the loss. The key in most instances, however, is for you to act fast.
What Happens When a Tooth is Knocked Out?
As shocking as a knocked-out tooth can be, it is a rather common occurrence and happens to people of all ages. From participating in sports to falling down to being involved in an accident, all can lead to a knocked-out tooth.
The anatomy of the tooth, however, is at stake in these situations. The sudden loss of the tooth in such a way results in severe damage to nerves and blood vessels. While these can’t be saved, in many cases, the tissues and bones that serve as a cover to the root of the tooth can be reattached.
You’ll need to act quickly, however. Preparing for this type of dental emergency can ensure you know what to do if it ever occurs to you, your family, or anyone else near you.
What to Do When a Tooth Is Knocked Out
As long as the tooth remains fully intact, you have a good chance of saving it. Follow these steps to increase those chances.
While you may panic initially when you realize a tooth has been knocked out, try your best to remain calm and prepare to act.
Retrieve the Tooth
Locate where the tooth landed, then pick it up carefully by the chewing surface. Never touch the root end of the tooth.
Carefully Rinse the Tooth with Water
To clear the lost tooth of any dirt or debris, carefully rinse it under cold water. Grasp it by the crown end and rinse for up to 10 seconds. Avoid any soap, mouthwash, or chemicals. Also, resist trying to scrub the tooth.
Leave the tooth wet, and resist drying it off or wrapping it up in a cloth or paper towel. Doing so can damage or contaminate the fragile tooth root.
Attempt to Place the Tooth Back in the Mouth
Check to see if you can gently and safely place the tooth back in its socket in the mouth. You may see blood, but this is okay. Push gently to position it in place, and either use your finger to hold it there or apply slight pressure as you bite down slowly. However, avoid trying to force it.
If you can’t position it in the socket, keep the tooth moist by keeping it between your gums and cheek as you make your way to the dentist.
If it is a child who has lost the tooth, rely on other measures to keep the tooth moist. This may be placing it in a glass of milk or allowing your child to spit in a container and immerse the tooth.
Place the Tooth in Milk
It’s essential to keep the tooth moist. If you can’t position back in your mouth, look to see if you are able to find a glass of milk. If so, place the tooth in the milk to transport to your emergency dentist appointment. Avoid immersing the tooth in water.
See Your Dentist Within 30 Minutes
Time is imperative when it comes to saving a knocked-out tooth. Try your best to get to an emergency dentist appointment within 30 minutes of sustaining the trauma or injury. It may still be saved if it takes a little longer than that as long as you keep it protected and moist.
How Can a Dentist Save a Knocked-Out Tooth?
Once you arrive at your emergency appointment, your dentist will examine the tooth and your mouth to ascertain the status of both. Specific things they will be looking for are whether the tooth is broken or the bone around where the tooth resided is fractured.
After ensuring the tooth is clean of debris, your dentist will then, if at all possible, slip it back into its natural socket. Re-implantation as quickly as possible is essential.
Next, a splinting of the avulsed tooth to the adjacent teeth with a composite material or a soft wire occurs. This step will hold the traumatized tooth in place for a number of days as determined by your dentist.
If you suffered no fracture of the bone in the area, the root of the tooth will reattach itself naturally to that bone within three or four weeks. If you suffer additional damage in that area of the tooth, it can take longer.
Your dentist may also perform a root canal during this initial appointment if that is a specialty provided by the office. Otherwise, you’ll be referred to a specialist.
The success of a reattachment procedure will depend on a number of factors, such as how long the tooth has been knocked out and any additional damage to it and the surrounding area in the mouth.
You’ll again visit your dentist in three to six months for a follow-up examination to determine progress and the lack of an infection.
Contact South Dayton Smiles for All Your Dental Needs
Whether you are currently experiencing a dental emergency or need to schedule a cleaning or exam, South Dayton Smiles is available to help you and your family when you need us. Contact our office here in Miamisburg today to get started on your path to healthy teeth and gums.