What do you do when your tooth gets knocked out?
More than 2 million Australians, including children, get their teeth knocked out every year. With timely intervention and proper procedures, knocked out teeth can be reinstated back in their socket. The important thing is to see your dentist as soon as possible to get the tooth replanted successfully. Time is the most critical factor here. If you can see the dentist immediately or follow the dental emergency procedure within five minutes of the accident, you have a really good chance of having your tooth back in its correct position again. Between five minutes to one hour is the best time for the tooth to be reinstated. Obviously, the sooner you can get the knocked out tooth to the dentist, the better the chances of full recovery.
Regeneration of periodontal ligament, or the substance that keeps the tooth in place, is the most vital aspect of re-implantation of the knocked out tooth. The periodontal ligament, or PDL, can be regenerated only if the tooth is pushed back in the socket as soon as possible.
It is important to keep in mind that only permanent teeth should be replanted. Do not strive to replant primary or baby tooth because it can damage the permanent tooth which is in formation in the socket.
The correct procedure to save a knocked out tooth
- Pick up knocked tooth immediately after the accident from the site.
- Pick it up at the crown not the root as the root is very delicate and will be injured with handling.
- If dirty, clean the tooth with slow running water. Do not use any soap or chemicals. Never scrub the tooth. Do not wipe or dry the tooth, because a dried out tooth cannot be replanted. Do not carry tooth in a tissue or cloth.
- Put the tooth back in its socket immediately. The sooner the tooth is replaced in its socket, the better chances it will have of survival. To reinstate the tooth, put the tooth into socket and guide it with your fingers. Gently push it in position and close mouth slowly. Hold the tooth in place with fingers. Gently bite on a soft wash cloth or hand towel.
- The tooth should never be allowed to dry. If you cannot put it back in its socket yourself, than keep it wet till you reach the dentist. The best way to keep it moist is to keep it in your mouth between the cheek and gums. Saliva is the best solution to preserve tooth. Alternately you can put it in a cup of milk. Or you can store the tooth in emergency tooth preservation kit. Water can also be used but it can preserve tooth only for 15 minutes, because the root surface of the tooth cannot tolerate water for long periods of time.
The most important thing to do in an emergency like this is to see the dentist as soon as possible. All the procedures for knocked out tooth should be followed but it is best to see the dentist or a dental surgeon in a hospital emergency ward even after you have put the tooth back in its socket.
Experts recommend that it is best to educate parents, teachers, sports consultants, coaches and other people concerned with sports and recreation with regard to procedures to be followed when a tooth gets knocked out.