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What to Do When a Tooth’s Been Knocked Out

Few dental conditions are considered an emergency but one exception is when a tooth has been completely removed from its socket. A tooth that’s been knocked out must be treated within 30 to 60 minutes.

Picking Up the Tooth

Always pick up the tooth by the crown and not the roots. Improper handling can lead to additional root damage and lower the odds of saving the tooth.

If the tooth is dirty, it can be softly rinsed with cold water for a few seconds but do not use soap or pressure to cleanse the tooth. Do not dry the tooth and do not wrap it in tissue or cloth.

Whenever Possible, Place the Tooth Back into the Socket

Often a knocked out tooth will slide easily back into its socket. Carefully position the tooth into the socket with your fingers and press slowly.

If the tooth does not slip back in smoothly, do not force it. Instead, store the tooth appropriately for the trip to the dentist.

How Does Re-Implanting Work?

When neither the tooth nor bone is fractured or broken the procedure can be fairly simple.

After the socket has been thoroughly cleaned of debris, the tooth will be placed back into position and splinted on either side with wire or composite material.

In cases where the bone is not broken, the root should reattach firmly to the bone in approximately 3 to 4 weeks.

The procedure will require several follow up appointments to determine how well the tooth has taken to the bone and to check for infection.

As damaged nerves and blood vessels cannot be fixed, a root canal will be needed. In some cases this is done straight away and in others the dentist may wait.

The re-implanted tooth will be monitored at yearly checkups for two to three years.

What happens if the tooth dies?

In the event that the tooth cannot be saved, patients missing a tooth can opt for a dental implant or a bridge.