Is A Knocked-Out Tooth A Dental Emergency? Definitely!

Posted on: 14 May 2015

Many people don't realize that having a tooth knocked out is a time-sensitive dental emergency. If you're playing sports, for example, or you have a nasty fall at home, and a collision knocks out one of your teeth, it's certainly possible to take some acetaminophen, make a dental appointment, and then replace the missing tooth with an implant or a bridge.

But if you act quickly, you may be able to save your tooth and have it re-inserted into your jaw. The longer you wait, the lower the chance that your tooth can be saved.

Call Your Dentist

If you can, your first call should be to your own dentist. If they can make room for an emergency appointment you'll have the advantage of getting treatment from someone who knows your dental and medical history.

If they can't see you right away they should be able to refer you to an emergency dental clinic in the area. And if you can't contact them or are traveling, of course, you can skip straight to looking up local emergency dental care dentists. Some emergency clinics still prefer appointments, so call first to make sure they will be able to see you.

Handle Your Tooth Gently

How you get your tooth to the dentist is also important. You want to keep it as clean and protected as possible, so try to handle it only from the top – don't touch the root. If the tooth left your mouth, you can give it a gentle rinse with only water, but don't scrub at it or dry it. If it was knocked out but stayed in your mouth, there's no need to take it out to clean it. Any tissue attached to the tooth should be left in place.

Transport Your Tooth Safely

The best transport option for your tooth is, believe it or not, your own mouth. If you can place the tooth back into its socket and hold it in by softly biting down, do so. If this is too painful or the tooth doesn't fit back in easily, however, don't force it – you can also transport it under your tongue. This works because the tooth is held in place and protected  by soft tissue; trying to carry it in your cheek is a bad idea because you're likely to move it around or scrape it against other teeth.

If your mouth isn't an option (or you're worried you might swallow the tooth), the next best way to transport your tooth is immersed in milk. You only need enough to cover the tooth. If you don't have milk, don't use tap water – instead, use your own saliva. A container with a lid is best so there's no danger of your tooth falling out during your trip to the dentist.