What to Do If You Knock Out a Tooth

What to Do If You Knock Out a Tooth

Every year, more than 5 million teeth are knocked out in U.S. children and adults. Whether you knock out a tooth while playing a contact sport, biting into a hard candy, or experiencing a fall, you can improve your chances of saving the affected tooth if you act quickly and appropriately. 

The dentists at Rifkin Dental in Yorktown Heights and Carmel, New York, provide convenient emergency dental services when you need immediate care. Our team of emergency dental specialists provides professional care for urgent problems like lost teeth to give you the best chance of saving your natural smile. 

Knocking out a tooth can affect more than the way you look. Open space along your gum line can interfere with normal oral function and jeopardize the health of your jawbone and gums. If you experience a knocked-out tooth, take these steps to improve your chances of saving your natural teeth. 

Handle with care

Make every effort to find your lost tooth and any fragments as soon as you realize it’s been knocked out. Only touch the affected tooth by the crown (the chewing part of the tooth). 

Avoid touching the tooth roots since the roots contain valuable tooth fibers, called periodontal ligaments, which are necessary for successful tooth reattachment. To protect the tooth roots, wrap your hand in a handkerchief or other covering before handling the loose tooth. Always handle the tooth gently when picking it up or holding it. 

Clean the tooth to remove blood, dirt, or other debris by rinsing it in water. Don’t use toothpaste, cleaning products, or a brush when cleaning the tooth since these actions can damage tooth fibers. 

Keep your tooth moist

Keeping your tooth moist is the best way to preserve it until you reach our office. If possible, push the tooth into the open socket. Your saliva provides the moisture necessary to protect your tooth and slow root deterioration. 

To keep the knocked-out tooth in the empty socket, bite down or hold it in place with a wet cloth, tea bag, or your fingers. Holding the tooth between your cheek and gum can also help preserve it if you can’t position it in the socket. 

If you can’t properly hold the tooth in the open socket, store the damaged tooth in a sealed container of milk. The pH level, proteins, and carbohydrates contained in milk make it the appropriate antibacterial environment to allow the root cells in your tooth to continue growing during storage. You can also place the tooth in a cup of your saliva or Save-A-Tooth®, an emergency tooth-preserving substance.

Visit our office within 30 minutes of tooth loss

Your tooth begins to die within 15 minutes of being dislodged from your mouth, so it’s important to act quickly if your tooth is knocked out. 

When you experience a knocked-out tooth, its root, nerves, blood vessels, and supporting tissue are damaged. While these components can’t be repaired, we may be able to splint the damaged tooth to a neighboring healthy tooth while the damaged tooth reattaches. Your results depend on the condition of the damaged tooth and how it’s stored. 

While the damaged tooth’s roots can reattach to the bone, most knocked-out teeth require root canal treatment to remove damaged tissue and blood vessels before reattaching. 

Getting emergency dental care is important after losing a tooth even if you can’t find it. In some cases, the missing tooth may be pushed into your gum, swallowed, or inhaled into your lungs. If this occurs, our staff can often identify the location of the missing tooth with an X-ray. 

Replace a tooth too damaged to save

Despite your best efforts, some teeth are too damaged to save. In this case, our staff can provide cosmetic dentistry options for replacing the knocked-out tooth to retain normal appearance and function. 

Artificial tooth replacements like dental implants can provide natural-looking substitutes for missing teeth. Other options, like dental bridges, porcelain veneers, or dentures may also be appropriate depending on the overall condition of your mouth.

Taking prompt and appropriate action can increase your chances of saving a tooth that has been knocked out. If this happens to you, schedule an appointment by calling our Yorktown Heights or Carmel office for rapid, expert dental care.

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