What to Do If You Knock Out a Tooth

person covering their mouth with their hand

What to Do If You Knock Out a Tooth

A knocked-out permanent tooth is always a dental emergency. In some cases, the tooth can be saved and reimplanted if you’re able to get to the dentist within 30 minutes. But even if the tooth is lost or too severely damaged, you still need to visit the dentist immediately to protect the empty socket from infection. Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do when you knock out a tooth. 

What to Do If You Knock Out a Permanent Tooth

1: Locate the Tooth and Avoid Touching the Root

The first thing you should do is find the tooth so you can properly protect it. Make sure to only pick it up by the crown (the chewing surface). Touching the root of the tooth can easily damage it, and lower the chances of being able to save the tooth.

2: Clean the Tooth

Next, you need to quickly but gently rinse the tooth with room-temperature water. Avoid brushing the tooth or using any kind of soap, which can damage the root. Do not try to dry the tooth or wrap it in a cloth, just move on to the next step. 

3: Place the Tooth Back in Its Socket

The best place to preserve the tooth is in the socket it came out of. Immediately after rinsing, place the tooth back in the empty socket and gently push it in. Hold the tooth in place by gently biting down on gauze placed between the top and bottom teeth. 

4: Keep the Tooth Moist

Keeping the tooth in its socket will keep it properly moist until you get to the dentist. But if you cannot place the tooth back into the socket, storing it in a container full of milk is the next best option—the tooth root can be damaged if stored in water. If milk is unavailable, another way to protect the tooth with your mouth is to store it in your cheek. 

5: Go to the Dentist Immediately

You must visit the dentist as soon as possible after a tooth gets knocked out. Even if you can’t find the tooth, or if the 30-minute window has passed, it’s still crucial that you seek treatment. An empty socket is highly vulnerable to infections, so don’t delay. 

If the tooth can’t be reimplanted, your dentist can discuss tooth replacement options like dental implants or bridges with you. It’s important to replace a missing tooth sooner rather than later, to prevent your other teeth from shifting. 

Permanent Teeth Can Fall Out Because of Decay

It’s never normal for adult teeth to fall out, no matter how old you are. If you lost a tooth that wasn’t knocked out by an injury, there could be a serious dental issue at fault. Untreated tooth decay and gum disease can degrade the roots of your teeth and jawbone enough to loosen a tooth and eventually cause it to die and fall out. 

Treating Knocked-Out Teeth in Prescott

No matter how you lose it, if a permanent tooth gets knocked out, you must act quickly to protect your oral health. We are equipped to handle a wide variety of dental emergencies at Prescott Dentistry in Arizona. We’ll do everything possible to save your tooth, and discuss your next best options if the tooth cannot be reimplanted. Call us at 928-445-1660 to make an urgent appointment. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (3/13/2023). Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels