I’m not talking about what to do if a baby tooth falls out. That’s easy. Place it underneath your pillow and wait for the Tooth Fairy to arrive…. everybody knows that. I’m talking about what to do if, heaven forbid, you should ever have a tooth knocked out- like in a rough game of hockey. This is a dental emergency, and what dentists refer to as an “avulsed tooth”. We always advise wearing protective mouth guards while playing any sport to minimize the risk of such incidences occurring, but as we all know, accidents happen.
If this happens, there are a few steps you can take which might make saving that tooth possible (believe it or not).
- Remain calm. Losing a tooth would be a bit traumatizing for anybody, but the calmer you are, the more clearly you can think.
- Look for your tooth. Is it in your mouth? Is it on the ground lying next to you? If you find it, make sure you try to pick it up by the crown, and avoid touching the root as much as possible.
- Replant the tooth in the socket if possible. This will give it the best chance for survival. If the tooth is dirty, wash it with cold running water for about 10 sec. Try to hold it steady in the socket (biting down on something may help).
- Or place the tooth in a suitable storage medium, e.g. a glass of milk, Hanks balanced storage medium (which is made specifically for avulsed teeth), or saline. Avoid storing the tooth in water! The tooth can even be stored in the mouth, between the molars and the inside of the cheek, but it is not recommended if the patient is very young, as he/she could swallow it.
- Seek emergency dental treatment immediately.
Keep in mind that these recommendations are only for permanent teeth – baby teeth should not be re-implanted into the mouth if they’ve been knocked out. There are different factors that will affect the prognosis of the tooth, and it will have to be closely monitored by your dentist from here on out.