Dealing with a knocked-out tooth, or an avulsed tooth as it's known in emergency dentistry, requires swift and careful action. Here's some guidance on how you should proceed if you, or someone around you, experiences this situation.
To begin with, it's important to stay calm and act quickly. An avulsed tooth can often be saved if it's reinserted within the first hour or so. That said, after two hours, the chances of successful reimplantation drop significantly even if you are with an emergency dentistry practitioner by then. Start by finding the tooth. Pick it up by the crown, not by the root, which can be easily damaged. If the tooth is dirty, rinse it very gently with milk or saline solution. Avoid using drinking water if possible, as it can damage the cells on the root surface.
Reinsert the Tooth
If you're able to do so, then try to reinsert the tooth into the socket from where it came. Position it correctly and gently push it into place with your thumb and forefinger. Ask the person to bite down on a soft cloth to keep the tooth in place. If you can't reinsert the tooth, perhaps because of swelling to the gum, then store it in a container of milk or saline solution. If these aren't available, have the person spit into a container and place the tooth in their saliva. It's crucial to keep the tooth moist.
Seek Emergency Help
Get to an emergency dentistry practice immediately, ideally within 30 minutes. If you can't reach your usual dentist, then go to a hospital instead. The quicker the tooth is professionally reinserted, the higher the chance it has of surviving. Emergency dentistry of this type will involve cleaning the tooth socket, reinserting the tooth and anchoring it in place with a splint, a kind of brace, which will usually stay in place for a few weeks.
Follow Aftercare Instructions
In the days and weeks that follow your emergency dental appointment, it will be important to follow your dentist's instructions to the letter. Aftercare may include taking antibiotics to prevent infection, eating soft foods and avoiding chewing or biting with the affected tooth. Follow-up appointments will likely be necessary to monitor the tooth's progress and to eventually remove the splint. Despite the best efforts of dentists, it's worth noting that even with the best immediate care, not all knocked-out teeth can be saved. Sometimes, the shock to the tooth is too severe. But with the right steps taken swiftly, you give the tooth the best chance possible.
Contact an emergency dentistry clinic to learn more.