More than five million teeth are knocked out every year in children and adults but if this happens to you due to an injury or accident it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s lost for good. Proper emergency action can save the tooth so that it can be replanted successfully and last for years to come.
Review and remember these tooth-saving steps that take you and your tooth from the time it falls out until you reach medical support:
1. Pick up the tooth by the crown (the chewing surface) NOT the root.
Locate the tooth immediately; don't leave it at the site of the accident. Handle the tooth carefully when you pick it up, and never touch the root of the tooth, only the crown (chewing surface).
2. If dirty, gently rinse the tooth with water.
Use only water to gently rinse off any dirt. Do not use soap or chemicals. Don’t scrub or dry the tooth, and don’t wrap the tooth in a tissue or cloth.
3. Reposition the tooth in the socket immediately, if possible.
Try to put the tooth back into its socket right away. Gently push it in with your fingers, by handling the crown, or position it above the socket and close your mouth slowly. Hold the tooth in place with your fingers or by gently biting down on it.
4. Keep the tooth moist at all times.
The tooth must stay moist at all times, either in your mouth or, if it can’t be replaced in the socket, put it in milk, in your mouth next to your cheek, or in an emergency tooth preservation kit (such as Save-a-Tooth®). Don’t use regular tap water; root surface cells can’t tolerate that for extended periods of time.
5. See an endodontist or dentist within 30 minutes of the injury.
Bring the tooth with you to your emergency appointment ideally. It's best to see the doctor within 30 minutes; however, it is possible to save a tooth even if it has been outside the mouth for an hour or more.