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Knocked-Out Tooth? Tips on Handling an Avulsed Tooth

What Happens When Your Tooth Gets Knocked Out?

When your tooth gets knocked out, the nerves, blood vessels, and supporting tissues become damaged in the process. Because of this damage, unfortunately, the nerves and blood vessels can’t be repaired. Therefore, all avulsed teeth will need a root canal. The bright side? The bone can reattach to the root of the tooth once it’s put back into place!

What Should You Do When You Get a Tooth Knocked Out?

The most important thing you can do after a tooth gets knocked out is to get to the dentist as quickly as you can. But, during the time between the accident and the dentist, it’s vital to avoid damaging the tooth even more.

Here are some suggestions from the American Association of Endodontists to improve the chances of saving your tooth:

  • Handle the tooth carefully. Always hold the tooth by the crown or the chewing surface of the tooth. The crown is the upper part of the tooth that is normally exposed and is protected by enamel. Do not touch the root of the tooth (the part that was under the gumline). It is sensitive and can be easily damaged.
  • If the tooth is dirty, rinse it with water. Use water to rinse the dirty tooth off. Don’t wipe off the tooth to dry or wrap it up after you rinse it, as that could damage the tooth.
  • Gently try to slip the tooth back into its socket. In many cases, the tooth will slip right back into the socket. Before trying to put it back in, make sure the tooth is facing the right way. Don’t try to force the tooth into the socket, this will only irritate the area. If it doesn’t go back into place easily, try your best to keep the tooth moist while you make your way to the dentist.
  • Keep the tooth moist. It’s very important that the tooth stays moist at all times. If you can’t place it back into the socket, keep the tooth moist in milk, in your mouth next to your cheek, or in an emergency tooth preservation kit. However, don’t use regular tap water to keep the tooth moist. Tap water isn’t good for the root surface cells for an extended period of time.
  • See your dentist as soon as possible. Perhaps the most important thing you can do if your tooth gets knocked out is to book an emergency dental appointment with your dentist or endodontist immediately, preferably within 30 minutes of the injury. However, a tooth can be saved if it is out of your mouth for an hour.

Any time your tooth is fully intact (not broken into pieces), it’s always a good idea to try to save it.

What Will My Dentist Do for a Knocked-Out Tooth?

The process for putting an avulsed tooth back into place varies depending on the severity of the injury to your gums and how long the tooth was out of your mouth. For example, when the tooth is broken, it can be more complicated to re-implant. The most important thing for a successful re-implantation is to get it done as soon as possible, ideally within the hour of the accident.

First, your dentist will use water to flush debris from the socket. Then, he or she will gently slip the tooth back into place. When your dentist has found the proper spot for your tooth, he or she will use a splint to secure the avulsed tooth to the teeth on either side. The splint will be made of either soft wire or composite material and will be used to hold the tooth in place for several days, but the amount of time it should remain will be up the discretion of your dentist.

As with the type of surgery to fix an avulsed tooth, healing time may vary as well. If your tooth wasn’t fractured, the root should reattach to the bone in about three to four weeks. However, more damage to the area may require six to eight weeks of repair time.

Your dentist should examine the tooth again in three to six months. Unless there are signs of infection, the next visit will occur at your yearly checkup. For the next two to three years, your dentist will follow up to ensure that the tooth was re-implanted successfully.

A knocked-out tooth can be scary, but it shouldn’t be a major cause of concern or stress. As long as you act quickly, are careful to protect the tooth, and make your way to the dentist as soon as you can, you should be able to fix it. Remember that your dentist is used to situations like this and try your best to remain calm and stay positive.