Follow These Steps to Save Your Knocked-Out Tooth

As dentists who specialize in providing same-day care for urgent oral health problems, the team at Smiles in Springfield can handle any dental emergency — including a severe traumatic injury like a knocked-out adult tooth. 

Every year in the United States, more than 5 million people have a permanent tooth knocked out of its socket in a collision on the sports field, a trip-and-fall accident, or some other mishap. 

A knocked-out tooth may not be the most common dental emergency, but it’s certainly one of the most pressing: Immediate care can mean the difference between saving your natural tooth or having to fill the empty space with an artificial replacement. 

To protect your knocked-out tooth en route to the dental office and increase the likelihood of successful reattachment following treatment, follow these simple steps:

1. Secure your tooth

When a tooth is pushed out of its socket completely, it may remain in your mouth or end up on the ground. Whether you have to search for it or merely spit it out of your mouth, the first step in saving your knocked-out tooth is securing it. 

Handle your tooth with caution, taking care to hold it by the crown, not the root.    

2. Gently rise away any dirt

If you found your tooth on a dirty surface, gently rise it off with water or milk. Do not use soap or any other type of chemical cleaner, and do not rub, scrub, or scrape it clean. 

When a tooth is forcibly ripped from its socket, some of its connective ligament tissue gets torn away with it. If you rub, scrub, scrape, or otherwise damage this delicate tissue, your tooth may not be able to heal and reattach itself to your jawbone. 

There’s no need to rinse a bloody tooth that hasn’t gotten dirty. 

3. Put your tooth back in its socket 

Set your tooth back in its socket as quickly as possible. You can gently reposition it with your finger (taking care to handle only the crown), or you can set it over the socket and slowly close your mouth to gently bite it back into place.   

Restoring your tooth to its socket serves two main purposes: It keeps the root safe and moist, both of which are vital to future reattachment. Even so, you should never force your tooth back into its socket. If you can’t reposition it with ease, don’t reposition it at all (see step 4).  

4. Keep your tooth moist 

If you can’t get your tooth back in its socket, it’s imperative that you find another way to keep it moist. The easiest way to keep it wet is to place it in a small, clean container and submerge it in milk, saline solution, or saliva. You can also hold your tooth in your mouth next to your cheek. 

Don’t submerge your tooth in regular tap water, however, as its root surface cells can’t tolerate the minerals and chemicals commonly found in unfiltered water for very long. 

And no matter what, never place a knocked-out tooth into a napkin, tissue, or cloth. Doing so can quickly dry it out and damage the connective ligament tissue, hindering the chances of future reattachment.  

5. See your dentist immediately

As one of the most pressing dental emergencies you can experience, a knocked-out tooth calls for immediate professional care — the sooner your tooth is reimplanted and splinted into place by a dentist, the more likely it is to reattach itself and heal. 

While it’s best to see the team at Smiles in Springfield within an hour of your traumatic injury, it’s still possible to save a tooth that’s been out of its socket for longer than an hour, especially if it has been cared for properly in the meantime.  

To learn more about the emergency dental care services available at our Springfield, Virginia, office, call 703-634-4239 today.

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