Traumatic Injuries | What to Do When You Get Your Tooth Knocked Out

May 6, 2022

If you have kids, are involved in any kind of sport, or just seem to end up in fistfights more often than most, you need to be ready for when a tooth gets knocked out. It is a common traumatic injury that can usually be treated successfully depending on the steps you take after the incident.

Your one-hour timer starts the moment the tooth leaves the socket. The success of reimplantation depends on how well you can protect the knocked-out tooth from damage. Here are a few things you need to know.

The tooth might not be your top priority.

The trauma that caused the tooth to be knocked out may have caused other injuries too. If the person is confused, unresponsive, or has sustained a serious injury, call 911. The tooth can wait.

1. See if the tooth can be returned to the socket it was knocked out of.

This might sound strange. The best place to store the tooth is back in your mouth. If possible, place the tooth back into the socket and hold it there. It helps to bite down on gauze or a cold compress. If you experience any pain, do not force the tooth back into the socket. You could agitate sensitive tissue. This could lead to more pain and further damage.

2. Handle the tooth by the chewing surface only.

If you’ve ever broken something ceramic or similar material to ceramic you know the golden rule: The less you touch the broken edges, the more seamlessly the pieces will go back together. Read: your parents won’t find out. Leave the root end of the tooth undisturbed as best you can. This is key to saving the tooth once you reach the dentist’s office.

3. Rinse the tooth to remove any debris.

Many teeth have been knocked out on playgrounds and sporting fields. If your tooth made it to the dirt, it should be rinsed off before you attempt to put it back in the socket. Rinse the tooth with milk or warm water. If the dirt can not be removed with a simple rise, it must be left. Friction could seriously damage the sensitive nerve endings of the tooth and make it harder to save. Do not add any cleaning chemicals to the tooth. Don’t try to dry the tooth off with a cloth or towel.

4. The tooth must remain moist.

If the injured person is able, have them keep the tooth in their mouth. The last thing you want to happen is for the tooth to dry out. If this is not possible, store the tooth in milk. Do not use water.