Tooth Knocked Out
You have a tooth knocked out. It is in your hand and you are looking at it. What do you do now?
Technically speaking, you now have an “avulsed tooth.” The definition of avulse is: to pull off or tear away forcibly [Dictionary.com].
1. Don’t touch the root. You will want to hold the tooth by the crown, or the part of the tooth that you would normally see.
2. Since most of us don’t have Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution handy in preparation of getting a tooth knocked out, the next best thing is to put the tooth back in your mouth and hold it in your cheek. No need to put it in the socket, just hold it in your cheek with saliva on it. Kids might be prone to swallowing a tooth, so if it’s a child’s tooth, you can have the child spit into a cup and then place the tooth in the cup. Saliva helps to keep the tooth from drying out and increases the chance for a successful re-implantation. If that scenario is not for you, placing your tooth in a cup of milk can also work. Milk does the same job of keeping the tooth properly hydrated.
What is Hank’s Balance Salt Solution? It is an over-the-counter saline solution media for ideally transporting a tooth that has come out. If you feel like being over prepared, this is the product for you!
3. If you are ultra super brave, a knocked out tooth can be re-planted on your own. Holding it by the crown, be sure to see how it would line up with your teeth. If the root is dirty, a gentle, 10-second, cold water rinse can clean off the debris. Line the tooth up with the socket and push it in. Bite on a cold, wet towel and hold it in position. Seek dental care immediately.
At the Dental Office
Here’s what we do at the dental office if a patient comes in with an avulsed tooth:
We will assess how long the tooth has been out, how it appears to the eye and on an X-ray, and from there form a plan to hopefully preserve the tooth for as long as possible. Often times this involves treating the nerve in the root short-term and long-term, stabilizing the tooth by fixing it to the adjacent teeth, antibiotics, a tetanus booster with your doctor, and careful observation over the coming weeks and thereafter. The likelihood of success over time isn’t high, but the re-implantation of a knocked out tooth preserves bone and the ideal shape of the gums for future implant placement once growth and development are complete! If you are an adult, sometimes moving to a dental implant is the more appropriate choice.
As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. With as many teeth that are avulsed during sports and athletic activities, a custom fit athletic mouth guard fabricated by your doctor may be a couple hundred dollars well spent. #PuttingAToothBackInYourMouthAintCheap #LongHashtag
This blog written by: Dr. Brandon White
Dr. Brandon White is the owner/dentist of White Dental Studio in Ashland, OR. White Dental Studio is an Eco-Dentisty Association Gold Certified dental practice. Our motto is: Exceptional Dentistry, Environmentally Friendly.