What Should I Do With a Knocked-Out Tooth on the Way to the Emergency Dentist?

emergency dentist Killeen, TX

An emergency dentist may be able to restore a permanent tooth that has been knocked completely out of its socket. The chances of success depend on the condition of the tooth and the amount of time that it has been out of the mouth. Though the loss of a tooth can be frightening, it is important to keep one's head and act quickly to try to save it.

See an emergency dentist right away

The dental pulp is the living center of the tooth, consisting of nerves and blood vessels. The cells of the pulp are necessary to the tooth's restoration but are sensitive. The pulp can die if the tooth remains out of its socket for too long.

It is usually recommended that a patient with a knocked-out tooth see a dentist within 30 minutes. Survival rates for knocked-out teeth remain fairly good up to an hour after the avulsion, i.e., the accident that caused the loss. Past the 60-minute mark, however, there is a significant decrease in the chances for the tooth's survival as the cells begin to die.

There is another reason for seeing the dentist as soon as possible after a tooth avulsion. The longer a tooth remains out of its socket, the greater the chance of exposure to bacteria that could cause an oral infection.

Protect the tooth in the interim

Reinserting the tooth into its socket within the first five minutes of losing it improves its chances of survival. However, this is not always possible. Here are five tips for proper handling of an avulsed tooth.

1. Gather the pieces, if necessary

Though more difficult, restoration of a tooth that has broken into two or more pieces may be possible. All pieces should be gathered up and taken to the dentist.

2. Handle with care

Only the crown of the tooth, i.e., the chewing portion, should be handled. The root should never come in contact with human hands or it could damage the periodontal ligaments that are vital to the tooth's survival.

3. Rinse it off

Before attempting to reinsert the tooth back into its socket, it should be rinsed off with water to remove any debris. It should not be scrubbed, or the cells of the root could be damaged, and no cleaning agents like soap or toothpaste should be used.

4. Keep it moist

If the tooth can be successfully reinserted into the socket, that will be sufficient to keep it moist. If not, the tooth should be transported to the dentist in a small container of milk or held in the patient's mouth between the cheek and jaw. Prolonged exposure to tap water can kill off the root cells. Therefore, this is not a good option for keeping the tooth moist. People who participate in activities that make tooth loss a greater risk may wish to purchase an emergency tooth preservation kit and keep it with them.

Conclusion

The sooner the patient can see an emergency dentist after a dental avulsion, the greater the chance of saving the tooth. It is also important to protect and preserve the tooth in the interim.

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