What To Do About A Knocked-Out Tooth

Whether you lead an active life taking risks or have an unforeseen accident, knocking out a tooth is always alarming. Blows to the face are especially common when playing contact sports which means a knocked-out tooth is always a risk. In fact, you can even experience a knocked-out tooth just sitting on the sidelines! Here we explain what to do if you knock out a tooth, and ways to avoid it.

What To Do When Your Tooth Is Knocked Out?

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As soon as you have a tooth knocked out, you have to act fast. Although it is scary when your tooth has completely fallen out, you can actually save it. The first thing to do is try to find the tooth. Once you find it, pick it up, avoiding touching the root end. This is the end that secures the tooth to your gums and jawbone. The root end is very important because it has periodontal ligaments and fibres that can actually allow the tooth to heal. This is the “joint” needed to attach the tooth back to the root and bone. So, picking the tooth up and handling it by the “chewing end” is the best way to ensure your tooth can survive.

What Do I Do With A Knocked-Out Tooth?

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Next, you have to preserve your tooth until you get to the dentist. If the tooth is dirty, which it likely will be, carefully rinse it in tap water, remembering to completely avoid touching those fibres at the root. DO NOT SCRUB the tooth as this can cause damage. Now, this is the part that can be a little dicey. You want to try to put the tooth back in place. It might sound a little weird, BUT this is very important to save your tooth. When putting the tooth back in its socket, ideally use a mirror to make sure you have it in properly. Then bite down on it with a piece of gauze to hold it in place. Immediately call your dentist for an emergency appointment.

What If I Can’t Put It Back In?

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If for some reason you can’t put the tooth back in place, be sure to handle it properly. The best way to transport your tooth to your dental office is to either put the tooth in your mouth and hold it in your cheek or place it in a small container of milk. Milk is your best bet if you are worried about having a tooth in your cheek, as it helps the cells maintain their integrity. Although you want to keep the cells moist, water actually causes the tissues to swell which can then lead to bursting. The proteins in milk provide pH balance while also having a natural anti-bacterial effect. The sugars in milk also help stimulate cell growth.

What To Do For A Child’s Knocked-Out Tooth

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If your child’s tooth is knocked out, the good news is you don’t have to worry if it is one of their baby teeth. We don’t bother re-implanting baby teeth since they have to come out anyway. If it’s one of their adult teeth, follow the instructions above.

How Can A Knocked-Out Tooth Survive?

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If you either keep the tooth fibres and cells in place or you are able to put your tooth back into its “socket” within five minutes, you greatly increase the odds of your tooth surviving. A tooth can survive for as long as 60 minutes when stored properly or put back in place in the mouth. Once it’s out of its socket for longer than an hour, you are not likely to see it re-implanted successfully.  This is because by this time the periodontal ligament will likely die.

How Can A Tooth Be Re-Implanted?

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At the dentist’s office, your dentist will assess your tooth and the site where it was knocked out. If you were able to maintain the tooth’s integrity it will be re-implanted and “splinted.” Splinting affixes the tooth to the teeth on either side using a soft wire and/or composite material. The splint keeps your tooth in place so the tissue can heal, and the tooth can restabilize. The splint will be required from two to eight weeks. In some cases, your dentist might recommend a root canal to ensure the long-term survival of the tooth.

How To Prevent A Knocked-Out Tooth

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The best way to prevent a knocked-out tooth is to ensure you or your child wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports. Your dentist can provide a customized mouthguard that protects your teeth if you receive a blow to the face. The material helps cushion impact while also dispersing the force of a blow. If you don’t have dental benefits to cover the cost of a custom mouthguard, you can also buy a semi-customized mouthguard at your local drug or sporting store.

These guards are “boil and bite” guards. You heat the mouthguard to melt the inside form and bite down on it for a reasonably tight fit. However, it isn’t as effective as a customized mouthguard. Mouthguards are highly recommended for anyone who participates in contact sports on a regular basis.

What To Do With A Dislodged Tooth

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A dislodged tooth is forced out of its position, causing the tooth to shift out of place or become loose, but it doesn’t actually fall out. This is referred to as tooth luxation. When this happens, you should contact your dentist immediately. Splinting will allow the tooth to heal in place. However, in more severe cases if the crown is dislocated the tooth might have to be extracted.

The Dos And Don’ts Of Knocked-Out Teeth

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Here are the dos and don’ts for a knocked-out tooth:

  • Do find the tooth, but don’t pick it up by the roots
  • Do rinse the tooth, but don’t touch the root end when doing so
  • Do try to put the tooth back in place, but don’t put it back in the wrong position
  • Do keep the tooth moist, but don’t put it in water – use milk instead
  • Do call the dentist, but don’t wait too long as the tooth can only survive being outside your mouth for about an hour

These tips will help save your tooth.

If you experience a knocked-out tooth, call immediately for an emergency appointment at 905-775-5307 or click here to request an appointment.


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dental emergency, knocked-out tooth


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