Knock out or lose a tooth? Time is of the essence. It’s important that you act quickly — within the next 30 minutes — if you want to save that tooth. This is a situation for an emergency dentist.
When you knock out a tooth, there’s a lot of nerve and blood vessel damage that can’t be repaired, unfortunately. But if you save a tooth, your dentist may be able to replant it so it reattaches to the root and functions as a natural tooth again.
If you don’t, you’ll need a root canal, as well as a tooth replacement such as an implant crown. If only part of your tooth broke off, you may need a broken tooth extraction — if the missing piece cannot be replaced by a dental crown or a veneer.
The most important thing you can do when you lose a tooth is to see a dentist as quickly as you can — ideally that very day, if not within an hour or two of losing the tooth. Tell your dentist you have an emergency.
Until you can get into see the dentist, what you do with the tooth can greatly increase the chances of being able to save the tooth and replant it.
First, handle the tooth very carefully. Always hold it by the crown — the chewing surface of the tooth. Avoid touching the root, the area of the tooth that’s below the gumline. The root is very sensitive and can be easily damaged.
If your tooth is dirty, gently rinse it with warm water. Don’t wipe the tooth dry or wrap it in anything because this can damage the tooth.
Try to slide the tooth back into the socket if you can. Often, you can just slip it right back in. First make sure the tooth is facing the right way. Be gentle — you don’t want to force the tooth back in. Only try this if it easily slides back into place.
You’ll want to keep the tooth moist. If the tooth won’t fit back into the socket, you can keep the tooth in your mouth next to your cheek (but be careful not to swallow it). You can also keep the tooth in a glass or container of milk. There are emergency tooth preservation kits you can purchase at most drug stores.
Again, you want to see your dentist as soon as possible — ideally within 30 minutes. Teeth may be able to be replanted if lost longer than an hour, if you are able to keep it moist.
But as a general rule, if your tooth is intact and not broken in pieces, always try to save it. We’ll do what we can. As dentists, we’re not miracle workers, but we sometimes can save and reinsert the original tooth. Protect the tooth, cross your fingers, and come see us soon!
When you come into our office in Tucson, we’ll flush the socket to remove any debris. Then we’ll try to slip the tooth back into place. If we are able to place the tooth back into the socket, we’ll construct a miniature splint that attaches to the surrounding teeth to hold it into place as it heals.
If the tooth wasn’t fractured, your tooth should reattach to the bone in about 3 or 4 weeks. More damaged teeth may take up to 6 to 8 weeks to heal.
We’ll have you back into our dentist’s office in the next 6 months. So long as there aren’t any obvious signs of infection, we’ll just inspect it at your next 6 month checkup. (But don’t miss your next appointment or put it off. Follow up is important!)
If the tooth is too badly damaged or too much time has passed between the injury and when you can get into see a dentist, we might not be able to save it. Then we’ll have to look at other alternatives to tooth replacement such as an implant crown or chipped tooth repair.
As dentists, we know emergencies happen. We’ll do everything we can to save your tooth.