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If you have a tooth knocked loose – or even knocked out – do you know what to do to deal with the emergency before you can get in to see a dentist? Here are some helpful tips that could make a difference in whether or not you save – or lose – your tooth.

Tooth That’s Been Knocked Out

If you have one of your teeth actually knocked out, it’s a dental emergency that requires immediate action. If you follow these steps, the odds of your dentist being able to actually reinsert and preserve your tooth are increased immensely.

  • Pick up the tooth by its crown (the top of the tooth).  Be sure you don’t touch the tooth’s root(s).
  • Rinse the tooth very gently – with warm water – to make sure that it’s clean. You don’t want to scrub the tooth or remove any tissue attached to the tooth. Don’t forget to close the sink drain so that you don’t lose your tooth down the drain.
  • Gently place the tooth back into the socket, if possible. Once you have it back in the socket, bite down while holding the tooth gently.
  • Place the tooth in a small container of milk (not water) if you can’t put the tooth back in the socket.
  • Immediately call your dentist to make an appointment to see him or her as quickly as possible. This will give you a much greater chance of saving your tooth (if you have also done the steps above). The longer you wait, the less chance of the tooth remaining viable to be re-implanted in the socket.

Tooth That Is Loose

For a tooth that has been knocked loose – or out of alignment – you should call the dentist right away to get in for an appointment as soon as possible. Then see if you can put the tooth back in its original position using your finger with minimal pressure (don’t try and force it). Bite down to keep the tooth from moving. Once you get in for your appointment, your dentist may want to splint the tooth to the adjacent teeth (the teeth on each side) to keep it stabilized.

Dental Emergency Preparedness Kit

You never know when a dental emergency might happen – they never seem to be predictable. If you are prepared and avoid panic, the chance of saving that knocked out or loose tooth increases immensely. Keep a small first aid kit (dental-focused) in your car and one in your house in an easy-to-find location. Each kit should contain the following:

  • Small container with a lid
  • Name and phone number of your dentist
  • Acetaminophen – not aspirin or ibuprofen because they can act as a blood thinner and cause excessive bleeding during a dental emergency.
  • Gauze
  • Handkerchief

Follow these tips and your odds of saving that lost or loose tooth will be much better. And you won’t have to worry about getting an expensive implant eventually to replace the tooth!

Sources: (ADA),