Teeth are knocked out every day, either from sports injuries, fights or other accidents. However, many people don’t know that a knocked-out tooth can actually be saved. Saving an avulsed tooth, or one that has been completely removed from the socket, requires specific conditions. When it comes to replanting the tooth, time is of the essence. See below for steps to take within minutes of the accident in order to have a greater chance at saving your tooth.
- Act Quick: When a tooth is knocked out, the ligament that holds the tooth in its socket (or PDL) is torn in half. Within 15 minutes of avulsion, the PDL cells on the tooth root begin to die because they are cut off from their blood supply. After just 30 minutes, the success rate of re-implantation diminishes rapidly. Recent studies have shown that range of critical time is between five minutes to an hour.
- Handle With Care: After the accident, the tooth should be located and picked up by the crown or enamel portion only. Avoid handling the tooth root! If the tooth is dirty or contaminated, it should gently be rinsed with milk or water.
- Store it Correctly: If you cannot immediately replant your tooth in its socket, it is best to store it in the proper medium until you can get to a dentist or endodontist. The American Association of Endodontists (2004) recommends submerging the fully formed tooth in milk, saline or saliva. Other research suggests that milk in packed ice is best. Avoid storing it in water, as water storage damages root surface cells. Keeping your tooth moist and submerged in one of these liquids can prevent the tooth root from drying out and dying.
- Go to Your Dentist: Again, time is of the utmost importance. Call your dentist immediately after an avulsed tooth injury. Park South Dentistry offers emergency dental care and we will do everything we can to save your tooth. If for some reason your tooth cannot be replanted successfully, our dental office offers a variety of tooth replacement options, including dental implants and dentures.
The above guidelines pertain to permanent teeth only. If a baby tooth is knocked out, it should NOT be replanted. This could cause damage to the permanent tooth bud in formation.