Emergency Dental Care: “Knocked Out Tooth” or Tooth Avulsion

What is tooth avulsion?

Three teeth with the middle tooth out of the gum.

Tooth avulsion means that a tooth is entirely out of the socket. Imagine a movie scene where a character gets punched in the face, and the next shot shows a missing tooth and a gap in the character’s smile. The tooth has been avulsed.

Many of us will not be a character in a movie, but what should you do if you have an injury and suddenly lose a tooth?

Help! I've knocked out my tooth!

The faster a dentist sees you, the greater the chance of saving your tooth. Try not to panic and follow these steps immediately after losing a tooth.  

  1.     Locate the tooth and only handle it Glass of milkby the crown. Touching the roots of the tooth could lead to further damage. 
  2.     Do not clean the tooth with soap or physically scrub the tooth. A sterile saline solution such as Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution (HBSS) is ideal for cleaning and keeping the tooth hydrated while you travel to the dentist. HBSS stimulates cell growth on the root. The more cells you have alive before replanting, the better your chance of tooth survival. Don’t have access to HBSS? Use milk instead! Milk can help preserve the tooth. 
  3.     Saliva in your mouth will also keep the tooth moist. You can gently place the tooth back in its socket if the site is not bleeding. Use gauze or a moistened paper towel to cover the tooth. Bite down on the gauze to apply light pressure to hold the tooth in place. Be careful not to swallow the tooth if you try this method.
  4.     Call your dentist and schedule an emergency appointment. Head to the emergency room if your dental office is closed and does not offer emergency services. Be sure to bring the tooth with you.

What happens next?

Hope is not lost if a tooth is avulsed, but timing is critical. Your dental provider will advise you on the recommended treatment plan if they can save the tooth. There are alternative treatment options if you need a replacement for the tooth instead. Ellis Family Dentistry can help you navigate your options. Call us today to schedule an appointment

Can I prevent tooth avulsion?

Some patients lose their teeth from an unexpected injury. High-contact sports can often lead to accidental tooth loss. Ellis Family Dentistry can provide a customized sports guard to help you protect your teeth. Contact our office to discuss your options!