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What to do if you knock out a tooth?

  • Posted on: Aug 31 2016
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So you’re playing baseball and your teeth catch the ball before your glove does. Or maybe you tripped over a tree root and your teeth caught your fall. Our teeth are always trying to help, but sometimes they do too much and can get caught on the wrong side of an accident.  If that’s the case, don’t worry. We can help!
In the event, you knock a tooth or teeth out (also called tooth avulsion) remain calm. There is a good chance we can save the tooth so that you can keep it, but you will have to act quickly and carefully.
If your tooth is knocked out the blood vessels and nerves that were connected to the tooth have been separated and cannot be repaired. At some point, the tooth will require a root canal but the bone can reattach to the root so that you can keep the tooth.  The younger you are the more likely the bone is to heal around the tooth.  Primary or ‘baby’ teeth cannot and should not be saved but happily, an adult tooth will replace it.
What to do
If you lost a tooth or teeth it is important to contact your dentist as soon as possible after the tooth has been knocked out.  You can call our office at 208-853-2221, or if it’s after office hours, give Dr. Jensen a call on his cell phone at 801-592-5695.  Be very careful while handling the tooth to prevent additional damage.
Follow these recommendations to increase the chances of saving your tooth:
  • Be gentle with the tooth. The root and the tissue attached to it are very delicate and can easily be injured. Try to handle only the top, white part of the tooth and leave the root alone.
  • If the tooth is dirty it can be rinsed off with milk. If milk is not available, water can also be used. Do not scrub the tooth clean with a brush or wipe, as doing so can damage the root.
  • Keep the tooth damp. If the tooth dries out the root will be damaged, and it will not reattach to the bone. The tooth can be kept moist by putting it in a glass of milk. If milk is not available the tooth can also be stored in your mouth so that your saliva will keep it wet. Sometimes younger children can accidentally swallow the tooth so placing it in their mouth is not advised. If a young child has lost a tooth have them spit into a cup and place the tooth in the saliva. As a last resort water may also be used; however, the previously mentioned methods will generally yield a better result.
  • If you are able you can try to put the tooth back in its socket. A lot of times it will slide in. When doing this make sure the front part is facing forward. Do not be forceful as you can damage the bone. If it does not go in easily keep it moist until you can come in and see us.
What We’ll Do
Again, give us a call as soon as you lose your tooth because minimizing the time the tooth is out of your mouth is critical.  When you get to the office, we will take an x-ray to evaluate the bone around the socket.  Dr. Jensen will then rinse the socket with saline and place the tooth back in the socket if you have not already done so. Ideally, the tooth should be re-implanted as soon as possible. We see the best results when this is done within an hour of the accident.
Depending on how long the tooth has been out of the mouth a root canal may be done at the time you come in or we may wait and re-evaluate things at a future appointment.  Dr. Jensen will then splint the tooth to the teeth on either side so it will not move. Limiting movement of this tooth is important so the bone can reattach to the root. Usually, this takes 3-4 weeks as long as there was not significant damage to the bone, which can then require additional repair time.
Healing will be monitored at regular intervals to determine if the bone has successfully reattached to the bone. This is normally done in 3-6 months. As long as there is no issues or infection, the next check will be done at your next appointment.
We know it’s a bad day if you lose your front tooth, but fortunately, if proper precautions are taken there is a good chance we can put it back and you can keep it for years to come.

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