Losing a permanent tooth can be a frightening and unsettling experience. While you may be tempted to avoid your dentist out of embarrassment, it’s important that you see us right away; we may be able to save your tooth if you follow proper procedures. This is especially true in the case of a knocked-out tooth.
What do I do with a tooth that fell out?
The first thing you need to do is to pick the tooth up. Be sure to grab the tooth by the crown, and not the tooth root. This minimizes injury to the tooth root, and may help ensure that the tooth can be properly placed back into position. Rise a dirty tooth gently with water, but do not scrub the tooth and do not dry it or wrap with cloth or tissue.
If possible, try to put the tooth gently back into its socket. This can help to ensure the tooth stays alive and will be able to naturally grow back into place. Carefully place the tooth into the socket and push gently either with a finger or by closing your mouth and pressing your upper and lower teeth together.
If you can’t put the tooth back into the socket, it’s important that it is kept moist. You may either use an emergency tooth kit (found at most drugstores), a glass of milk, or hold the tooth in your mouth (be careful not to swallow it). Finally, see your dentist within 30 minutes to ensure that your tooth can be saved.
What if my tooth can’t be saved?
In some cases if your tooth fell out, your tooth won’t be able to be saved. In this instance, your dentist will likely recommend that you receive a dental implant in order to replace the tooth and to prevent issues such as gum and bone loss from occurring. These dental implants look just like your natural tooth, and will act as a replacement for your tooth’s root as well.
If you aren’t eligible for a dental implant, your dentist may recommend an alternative treatment such as a fixed dental bridge or partial denture. These will take less time to heal than a dental implant, but will not act as a replacement for your natural tooth root. Over time, it’s likely that your dental bridge or partial denture will need to be replaced.
How can I prevent tooth loss?
In many cases, tooth loss is a completely preventable issue. When participating in sports or other athletic activity, wear a professional athletic mouth guard in order to protect your teeth from damage. You can also prevent tooth loss due to tooth decay or gum disease by following good oral hygiene practices and maintaining a regular schedule of bi-annual visits with your dentist for cleanings and checkups.