We all hope that we would never lose a tooth. If we have children, we certainly don’t want to see them get their teeth knocked out. But—accidents do happen, especially in sports. If you are around when a friend, relative, or child has a tooth or teeth knocked out during sports play, you will be glad that you read this article.
Most people would never attempt to put the tooth back in, but that is exactly what you should do. Rinse the tooth off and gently nuzzle it back into its socket. A tooth that has been suddenly dislodged is called an “avulsed” tooth. Tiny blood vessels and nerves are greatly damaged when this happens. However, there is always a chance that the tooth can be saved and re-implanted if great care is taken to keep it moist and to get to an Endodontist as quickly as possible.
Think of how you can pull a plant up out of the ground with roots still attached, and if you replant it quickly, it will probably live. But quickly is the key. The same goes for teeth, and children’s teeth have a better chance of being successfully reimplanted then adult teeth. How you handle the tooth after it has been knocked out is extremely important.
Try to avoid touching the root area and only hold the tooth by the crown. Do not wipe the tooth off with a cloth or your shirt. Ideally, you should rinse it with milk but if you don’t have milk then use water. If for some reason you cannot put the tooth back in its socket until reaching the dentist office, then you should place it in some milk or salt water or it can be carried inside the mouth. What is important is that it stays wet and is not allowed to dry out.
It should go back into the socket fairly easily but make sure the tooth is facing the correct way. If you are having trouble, don’t force it—use the milk or the person’s own saliva to keep the tooth moist until arriving at the dental facility.
If possible you should see an Endodontist because they are dentists who are experienced at working with the root of the tooth and saving teeth. They are root canal experts and will consider an avulsed tooth a dental emergency, because they understand how important it is to act quickly to save the tooth. What is amazing is that tiny ligaments in the root of your tooth will naturally reattach to the gums if given the chance.
Reimplanting a knocked out tooth is not always successful, but it is always worth trying. The tooth probably won’t last as long as it normally would have, but it can last for many years and then a permanent solution can be used.
Mouth guards are designed to prevent tooth loss from happening. But often, both children and adults alike won’t bother to wear a mouth guard when they are participating in a sport or recreational activity. Mouth guards work very well and we strongly recommend their use. Watch for a future article about mouth guards.