If you undergo trauma to the mouth or jaw, it’s possible for one or more of your teeth to completely detach from your gums. Having a knocked out tooth can be a scary and painful experience, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your tooth. With immediate and decisive action, your natural tooth can be saved. Ideally, you will see a dentist or endodontist within 30 minutes of the tooth being knocked from your mouth. However, teeth that have been out for an hour or more may still be able to be reattached in certain cases.
First, collect your tooth and determine if it is intact. If at all possible, do not touch the root. Try to handle the tooth by the crown or chewing surface. Handle the tooth very carefully and as little as possible. If it is dirty, rinse it gently with clean water. Do not attempt to scrub it, rub it, or wrap it. Do not use any soap, chemicals, or other cleaning agent.
It is vital that the tooth not be allowed to dry out. If possible, replace the tooth in its socket. Try to carefully position the tooth over the gum and slowly push it into place. Gently bite down to keep the tooth steady until you receive treatment. If the tooth cannot be replaced, you need to focus on keeping it moist.
If you have a tooth preservation kit, immediately submerge the tooth in the provided solution. Otherwise, put a small amount of milk in a clean container and completely submerge the tooth. If milk is unavailable, try placing the tooth in your mouth between your cheek and gums. These methods will keep the tooth healthy while you seek treatment. Do not use water to store your tooth, as it isn’t tolerated well by the cells on the tooth root.
Immediately proceed to your general dentist or our office. If none are open, you can seek assistance at the nearest emergency room. Your general dentist or Dr. Woodard will flush the socket and rinse the tooth, then place the tooth into position in your mouth. A splint or other method will be used to hold the tooth into place during the healing process.
Your endodontist will decide whether a root canal should be performed immediately or if a separate appointment should be made. This may vary depending on the length of time the tooth was out of the mouth and the condition of the bone surrounding the teeth. A root canal is necessary because damage to a tooth leaves it vulnerable to infection in the pulp that houses the nerves and blood vessels. The root canal involves removing this pulp, preventing the formation of painful abscesses and/or resorption of the root(s).
It typically takes three to four weeks for a tooth to reattach to the bone. If damage to the area was more severe, such as a fracture to the jaw, recovery time may take up to eight weeks. A follow-up appointment will be set to check healing and remove the supporting materials. You should have the tooth examined within six months of the procedure and then again at twelve months and two to three years later. Regular follow-up care will ensure that the tooth has attached successfully and no further problems are developing.