How to Handle a Knocked-Out Tooth

A knocked-out tooth is a dental emergency that requires quick action.

If an accident, fall or sports mishap knocks out one of your teeth, how you respond could mean the difference between saving and losing the tooth.

How to Handle a Knocked-Out Tooth

Getting to the oral surgeon right away is a must. But what should you do in the meantime?

Immediate Steps to Take for a Knocked-Out Tooth

As soon as a tooth is knocked out, find it and pick it up carefully. Touch only the crown — steer clear of the roots.

If possible, you’ll want to put the tooth back in the socket. Rinse it gently with water (don’t scrub or wipe, or you could destroy the attached connective tissue), then carefully push the tooth into the socket. Bite down gently or use your fingers to hold it in position.

What if you can’t reinsert the knocked-out tooth? Keep it in your mouth, next to your cheek. Or place it in a small container of cold milk — not water. Milk is fortified with vitamins and has a neutral pH balance, so it can help preserve knocked-out teeth.

Head to the Oral Surgeon Right Away

As soon as you’re done dealing with your knocked-out tooth, contact your oral surgeon and ask for an emergency appointment. If their office is closed, head to your dentist or the local emergency room.

Time is critically important. For the best chance at saving the tooth, try to get to the oral surgeon’s office within a half-hour. Teeth that have been outside the mouth for an hour or longer are more difficult to save.

Your oral surgeon will evaluate the damage to your tooth and create a plan for reattachment. Knocked-out teeth can often be replaced through the use of a brace or splint, using the neighboring teeth for support. Fractured teeth may need to be stabilized with a wire, similar to the type used for braces.

What if the Knocked-Out Tooth Can’t Be Saved?

Unfortunately, not every tooth can be replaced once it’s knocked out — too much time might pass, or the tooth may be too badly damaged.

If the oral surgeon can’t save your knocked-out tooth, you may want to consider a dental implant. Implants fit, feel and function just like natural teeth. And since they’re placed in the jawbone, implants help preserve the jaw’s structure. In contrast, a bridge doesn’t look or feel as real, and getting one will do nothing to prevent bone loss.

Anytime you experience a dental emergency, the professional team at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah will make every effort to see you immediately. Contact our Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan or Tooele office for an oral surgeon appointment right away.