Having a tooth knocked out, usually the result of a traumatic sports injury, is a true dental emergency. The sooner the tooth is re-implanted, the better the chance of the tooth remaining with the smile for a lifetime. A dental emergency involving a tooth avulsion can be quite alarming, but there is no time for delay to re-insert the tooth. Research has shown that re-insertion of a permanent tooth should be performed in less than 1 hour.
Handling the tooth is critical during the emergency. One should only hold the tooth by the crown and avoid touching the root. If the tooth appears dirty or contaminated, gently rinse the tooth with milk or water. Never store the tooth in water. It is best kept and transported in a solution known as Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution, but milk, saline or saliva will suffice. See a dentist immediately, as this is a dental emergency. Once the tooth is re-inserted it will need stabilizing with splinting.
Emergency medical attention takes precedence when severe head trauma or unconsciousness occurs. Never re-implant the tooth when one is unconscious as one could choke on it.
Although alarming, it is typically not a dental emergency when involving a baby tooth. Refrain from re-implanting a baby tooth. Damage can occur to the adult tooth. Instead, this baby tooth is better to be inserted under the child’s pillow to await the tooth fairy.
Aubrey Myers, D.D.S.