Emergency Dental: What to Do If You Get Your Tooth Knocked Out

Accidents happen — a sudden blow to the face or a sports-related injury can result in a knocked-out tooth. So what do you do if you get your tooth knocked out? It’s a distressing situation that requires immediate attention. While it’s crucial to stay calm and act swiftly, many people are unsure about the proper steps to take during such a dental emergency.

In this blog post, we will guide you through the essential measures to follow if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of a knocked-out tooth. By understanding the right actions to take, you can increase the chances of saving your tooth and preserving your oral health. Let’s explore the critical steps to ensure you’re prepared for any emergency dental work.

Dental model with a missing tooth for the article about what to do if you get your tooth knocked out.

It happens more often than you might think: more than five million teeth are knocked out each year, requiring emergency dental work and some serious damage control. 

Luckily for those who find themselves in this situation, it is possible to salvage the rogue tooth—and to replant it successfully. 

How Might a Tooth Get Knocked Out?

Dentists refer to a tooth that has been knocked out as an “avulsed” tooth. When an adult comes to us with an avulsed tooth, it’s typically attributed to an accident while playing a contact sport, or an accidental blow to the face or fall. 

Knocked-out teeth in children are a little more common, simply because they tend to spend more time being active, and are less coordinated. 

What To Do If You Have Your Tooth Knocked Out

If you have had your tooth knocked out, don’t panic! It doesn’t mean that it’s gone for good. Follow the steps below to increase your chances of minimal damage.

No matter where you are in the process, it’s important to keep two things in mind to make the preservation and replanting of the tooth most likely: 

  • Time: You’ll want to get to an ER or dentist’s office within 30 minutes, though it may still be possible to replant a tooth that has been out for 60 minutes or more. 
  • Moisture: Keeping the tooth moist is vital, but you need to be careful about what medium you use to do so. Never dry the tooth off.

Locate the Tooth

If the knocked-out tooth has fallen out onto the ground or another surface, the first thing you need to do is find it, of course. When you do make sure to pick it up by the crown and not by the root. Touching the root is more likely to cause damage which makes it more difficult to replant. 

If you swallow or inhale the tooth, or even if you think you have, an x-ray is the best way to confirm that. While swallowing the tooth isn’t a best-case scenario as it means you cannot have the tooth replanted, it isn’t usually dangerous. Generally, teeth are digestible and will pass without a problem. 

Clean the Tooth

Once you have located the tooth, you can clean it off if necessary either by licking it clean or by rinsing it gently with water. 

Do not use soap or chemicals when cleaning the tooth. Whatever you do, don’t dry it, and don’t wrap it in tissue or paper towels. Just rinse and place it in a safe place—more on that in the next section.

Keep It In Place  

If you can, reposition the tooth back in the socket. Try placing it there, then gently pushing it into place by the crown with your fingers, or slowly closing your mouth to keep it in place. 

If you can’t keep it in the socket, try keeping it in your cheek so that it can stay moist in its natural environment. If that’s not possible, for instance if it’s a childs tooth and you’re worried they might swallow it, keep it in either a glass of milk or a cup of saliva. Just make sure it’s the saliva of the person who lost the tooth.

Try not to use regular tap water, as the tooth’s root surface cells can’t tolerate that environment.

See a Dentist Within 30 Minutes 

If you’ve had a tooth knocked out, see a dentist ASAP. Ideally, you’d see a dentist within 30 minutes of the moment the tooth was knocked out. However, it may still be possible to replant the tooth if it’s been up to 60 minutes, and in some cases longer. 

The dentist will clean the tooth, and place it back into the socket. Then they’ll secure the tooth in place by fixing it to the teeth next to it, and adding a splint. It will then heal, either through the repairing of the ligaments around the tooth—periodontal healing—or through the bony socket replacing the root—bony healing.

If the lost tooth could not be found, or for some reason could not be replanted, it can typically be replaced with a false tooth.

Contact Mint Leaf Dentistry of Raleigh! 

Whether it’s a dental emergency like a tooth being knocked out or a biannual check-up, Mint Leaf Dentistry is here for you. In every case, we believe in highly-personalized and compassionate care for each patient

Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling 919-330-1710, or filling out the contact form below!

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I have only got part of the tooth?

If you only have part of the tooth, don’t try to place parts of it back in the socket. Gather up the pieces you have, keep them moist, and get to a dentist ASAP. They will check to be sure there is no root damage, and come up with a plan to restore the tooth. 

What if it is a baby tooth?

If a baby tooth is knocked out before it naturally falls out, don’t put it back into the socket. It may cause an infection to the adult tooth beneath it waiting to come in.

It’s still a good idea to get your child to a dentist quickly, to be sure all parts of the tooth are out of the gum. 

What if it happens outside of dentists’ office hours?

Even if the incident that causes the knocked-out tooth happens at a time in which your dentist’s office is closed, you will likely still be able to reach them for an emergency dental service.

They should be able to direct you to emergency care, or treat you quickly themselves. 

What can I do to avoid having teeth knocked out?

In some cases such as accidents, there’s nothing you can do to prevent a tooth from being knocked out. However, it helps to take precautions when doing activities that you know may lead to a knocked-out tooth. 

For instance, always wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports to provide a layer of protection from heavy hits.

Accidents and emergencies happen. Kids and adults alike can have accidents happen or have their tooth knocked out. I just saw a patient today that had a front tooth completely knocked out of its socket which prompted me to do this post on what to do if you knock a tooth out.

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