Follow These Steps to Save Your Knocked-Out Tooth

Aug 01, 2023

Follow These Steps to Save Your Knocked-Out Tooth

It’s standard dental practice to preserve a natural tooth whenever possible. Though teeth can be replaced with bridges and implants, these solutions present compromises. Saving a natural tooth is the best solution, even when it’s knocked out.

If you turn out to be one of the five million Americans that has a tooth knocked out this year, you might be surprised to find out that it’s possible to save a tooth that’s not cracked or damaged. The key is that you act fast.

You’ve got an avulsed tooth. It means that the tooth is knocked completely out of its socket. While not a health-threatening emergency, saving the tooth is a dental emergency for the prevention of tooth loss. 

At Los Altos Family Smiles, we can help your knocked-out tooth recover if you know what to do in the moments after the incident. We specialize in treating dental emergencies, and an avulsed tooth certainly qualifies. Follow these steps to save your knocked-out tooth. 

Saving a knocked-out tooth

You have about an hour from the time the tooth is knocked out to have a good chance of saving it. Follow these steps to improve your odds of successful recovery. 

1. Handle the tooth by the crown

When you locate the tooth, pick it up by the crown, never by the root. There’s soft tissue at the tip of the root that helps to reestablish the tooth once it’s replaced in the socket. 

2. Rinse the tooth if it’s dirty

Use only plain water to gently rinse the tooth. Don’t scrub it or use any sort of soap or detergent — not even toothpaste. 

3. Try to put the tooth into its socket

Replacing the tooth in the empty socket within five minutes of the event is the best chance you have for saving the tooth. Try to gently push the tooth into the socket after rinsing it, holding it by the crown only. You can start it into the socket, then close your mouth slowly to press the tooth into place. 

If you’re successful, hold the tooth in place with a finger or with gentle biting pressure. Now’s the time to get to our office as soon as you can. If the accident happens after hours, proceed to the local emergency room. If you’re not able to easily replace the tooth into its socket, continue to step four. 

4. Keep your tooth moist

Your tooth must remain moist for the soft tissue to remain viable. You have two options. First, you can keep the tooth between the cheek and the gums so that it stays moistened with saliva. 

However, if you’re worried about the possibility of swallowing the tooth, then place it in a small, sealable container and cover it with milk. Milk best supports the soft tissue on the tooth for the longest time. Tap water may damage that tissue. Once the tooth is secured, proceed to our office or your emergency room. 

It’s possible for the soft tissue to remain viable for a few hours in some cases, but the best chance for saving the tooth comes within the next 30 to 60 minutes. 

While you can reach our office by telephone or online for regular appointments, call us at 650-948-5355 when you have a dental emergency like a knocked-out tooth. We’ll immediately prepare for your arrival. Time is of the essence, so call us as soon as possible.