There’s a famous quote by Ben Franklin that ends with “nothing is certain except death and taxes.” The inevitability of occasional emergencies can easily be added to those words of wisdom.
It seems that no matter how careful you are, a simple misstep, a car accident, or sports injury can quickly turn an otherwise perfectly calm and enjoyable day into a chaotic and stressful one. If you are among the more than 5 million people whose bad day results in a knocked-out tooth, you are well aware that fast action and the help of an emergency dentist can make all the difference in the world.
In this blog, our own Keith Bram, DDS, who is specially trained in emergency dental care, offers his insights and tips on what to do if you knock out a tooth.
When it comes to successfully re-implanting or reinserting a permanent knocked-out tooth, it all comes down to quick action. The overarching goal from the moment the tooth gets knocked out to the moment you reach your emergency dentist’s office is to retain the tooth’s viability — basically, keep it alive for reimplanting. And the clock is ticking.
The good news is knocked-out teeth, sometimes called avulsed teeth, that are treated within 30 minutes to one hour have a high chance of successful reinsertion.
Job one is actually two tasks: contact your emergency dentist to arrange to meet them at the office, and find the tooth and carefully handle it from the crown only. Not touching the root area of the tooth is crucial, as that area is super important for reinsertion. Once you find the tooth, if it’s dirty, carefully rinse it under water to remove any debris.
Although it’s not always possible, try to place the tooth back in the socket. Again, avoid contact with the root area by guiding the tooth to the socket holding the top or crown area. This action re-establishes contact to the natural area, increasing the potential for successful re-implanting.
Once inserted, hold the tooth in place by carefully biting down on a clean cloth or gauze.
If you can’t easily get the tooth back in the socket, don’t force it. There are some great strategies you can use to keep the tooth safe, clean, and moist while en route to your dentist’s office. In this scenario, lukewarm milk or saline solution are handy mediums to use.
After cleaning the tooth, carefully place it in a small container filled with milk or saline solution. You can also use salt solution sometimes found in first aid kits for avulsed teeth. Avoid putting it in a container of water, as water may harm the cells in the tooth’s roots. If you don’t have access to the proper fluids and a container, try placing the tooth between your cheek and gums, but be careful not to swallow it.
Once you arrive at your dentist’s office, your part in the process ends and your emergency dentist swings into action. Dr. Bram first examines both the tooth and the area of trauma. Then he cleans and irrigates the tooth socket to remove any residual debris or dirt.
The next step in the reinsertion treatment process is to thoroughly examine the socket area to determine the exact location where the tooth should be reinserted. Once inserted back into the socket, Dr. Bram makes a splint, which anchors to either side of the socket, to hold the tooth in position.
Over the next several days, nature takes control of the treatment to heal the reinserted tooth in position. For most patients, the healing process typically takes three to four weeks for the affected tooth’s root to reattach to the bone.
If you experience a knocked-out tooth or other dental emergency, call the practice of Doc Bram in Lisle, Illinois right away at 630-963-9280. We’ll be there when you need us the most as well as for all your dental care needs.