When teeth do get knocked out, the key is to act quickly, yet calmly, and follow these five simple steps to save the tooth:
- Pick up the tooth by the crown (chewing surface), not the root. Handle the tooth carefully by the crown, avoiding the tooth opening, to help minimize injury to the root.
- If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse it with a spray of water. Take care not to handle the root surface. Don’t use soap or chemicals, scrub or dry the tooth, or wrap it in a tissue or cloth.
- Reposition the tooth in the socket immediately, if possible. The sooner the tooth is replaced, the greater its chance of survival. To reinsert, carefully push the tooth into the socket, or position the tooth above the socket and close the mouth slowly. Hold the tooth in place with fingers or by gently biting down on it.
- Keep the tooth moist at all times. The tooth must not be left outside the mouth to dry. If it can’t be replaced in the socket, put it in a glass of milk or in the mouth next to the cheek. If none of these is practical, use water, preferably with a pinch of salt.
- See an dentist within 30 minutes. A tooth can sometimes be saved even if it’s been outside the mouth for an hour or more. But seeking professional help within 30 minutes significantly improves the odds of successful reimplantation.
The high-impact nature of most sports means that teeth can be knocked out at almost any time. But with the proper preventive measures and quick thinking, your teeth can be saved to last a lifetime.
For more information see our full section on Mouth Guards - costs, importance, consequences of not wearing one, design, options and more.