You hope it won't happen to you, but millions of people accidentally knock out a tooth each year. More than five million teeth are lost each year just from sports-related injuries. Other causes of accidental tooth loss include falling, fighting, car accidents and biting something hard. Lakeland dentist Dr. Shelly Prakash outlines the steps you should take if you or someone you know knocks out a tooth:
Find the tooth and call your dentist. A tooth that is knocked out of a person’s mouth is called an avulsed tooth. Your best chance of saving the tooth is to re-implant it within 30 minutes of it being dislodged.
Hold the tooth only by the crown, not the roots. Touching the roots can kill them.
Gently rinse the tooth. "If you’re at a sports event, ask the trainer or coach if they have Hank's Balanced Salt Solution," Dr. Prakash said. "It’s a pH-balanced solution that will keep the tooth at a biological pH level and keep it healthy." If that solution is not available, rinse the tooth gently with running cold water, milk or saline solution just long enough to remove any dirt or debris.
Place the tooth back in the socket. Hold it in place by biting down on gauze or a wet tea bag until you can see your dentist. "The best place for a tooth is in the mouth," Dr. Prakash said. “In the tooth socket, it has the best chance to connect to the periodontal ligament and reconnect to the blood vessel network."
Or transport the tooth. If you can't place the tooth back in the socket yourself, place it in a small container and cover it with milk, saline solution, saliva or a pH-balanced solution like Hank's Balanced Salt Solution. You need to keep the roots moist. However, don't transport the tooth in water because that can kill the roots.
Head to the dentist or emergency room. Remember, time is of the essence. A tooth re-implanted within 30 minutes of dislodgement has the greatest chance of surviving the trauma. Also, a professional needs to check for jaw fractures or other problems.
There are other factors that will influence whether the tooth can be saved. Dentists typically will not re-implant baby teeth. Also, the age of the permanent tooth can impact the ability to successfully re-implant it. Your dentist may need to do a root canal and will definitely need to monitor the tooth closely in the months ahead to ensure there are no complications.
One last word of advice: take a moment now to add your dentist's phone number and address to your cell phone. It may save precious moments if you're in an emergency situation!
Shelly Prakash, DMD, provides general dentistry services to patients age 5 and older at Coast Dental Highland Plaza, 2960 Lakeland Highland Road, Lakeland, FL 33803. Services include extractions, root canal therapy, professional teeth whitening, and veneers. Dr. Prakash is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, American Dental Association and the Florida Dental Association. Her office phone number is (863) 665-1545.
Written by: Beth Gaddis
Reviewed by: Shelly Prakash, DMD
Reviewed by: Diaa Ghabbour, DMD
Reviewed by: Chuck Laun, DDS