According to the American Association of Endodontists, around five million teeth are knocked out every year due to accidents, falls and sports related injuries among others. In many cases, the tooth can be saved and replanted successfully. However, it’s important to take emergency action and follow these steps:
#1. Locate the tooth immediately. Pick it up by the crown and avoid touching the root as much as possible. The less trauma that occurs to the root, the more likely the tooth will be salvageable.
#2. If the tooth is dirty, carefully rinse it with water or milk. Don’t scrub it, rub it, or use any abrasive soaps or cleaners.
#3. It’s important that the tooth stays moist at all times. Don’t wrap it in a cloth or dry it with a paper towel. If possible, gently reinsert the tooth into the socket and hold it there with your fingers. If doing this isn’t an option:
- Store it in milk,
- Hold it in the mouth against the cheek,
- Or keep it in a glass of water with a pinch of salt.
#4. See your dentist as soon as possible. Within thirty minutes is ideal, but if the proper steps are followed, it may be possible to save the tooth even after an hour or more.
What To Do if Your Tooth Can’t Be Saved
Thanks to our modern dental advances, there are a few things that you can do if you are missing a tooth:
- A Dental Bridge: This requires prepping the teeth on either side of the missing tooth and placing 3 crowns fused together, with the fake tooth in the middle to bridge the gap and is cemented into the place. It is a permanent fixture.
- A Dental Implant: When there is enough bone to allow for a dental implant, it is generally considered the best option. A root replacement is placed down in the jaw bone and allowed to integrate for a number of months, and then a crown is placed over top looking identical to a normal tooth. It is not fused to anything and is 90% functional, and 100% esthetic in appearance.
- A Flipper: Also known as a partial denture. It is similar to an orthodontic retainer made to snap into place and hold to the remaining teeth around it. This is usually the cheapest option, but also the most disliked as it is a removable device and usually not very hardy.
- Nothing. If the tooth is in the back or the space doesn’t seem to be a bother, you don’t have to do anything. Just leave the space alone. However, if you ever anticipate doing a dental implant down the road, your dentist might recommend placing a bone graft to help preserve the bone in the area.