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Knocked-Out Tooth: First Aid

Topic Overview

Mouth injuries that are forceful enough to knock out a tooth may also damage other teeth or other structures in the mouth or face, such as the roof of the mouth, gums, lips, or cheeks. A permanent tooth can sometimes be put back into its socket (reimplanted). The best results occur if a dentist puts the tooth back in the socket within 30 minutes. Chances of successful reimplantation are unlikely after 2 hours.

1. Find the tooth.

  • For a baby tooth (primary tooth): Apply clean gauze to the gum and socket for about 15 minutes to control the bleeding. A baby tooth is not reimplanted after it has been knocked out because the reimplantation may cause problems with later development of the permanent tooth. Your child will need to be checked by a dentist even if the tooth was getting ready to fall out soon.
  • For a permanent tooth: Apply clean gauze and continue with the steps listed below.

2. Rinse the tooth gently with tap water while holding it by the top of the tooth (crown). Do not rub or scrub the tooth or touch the root.

3. Store the tooth properly for transport to the dentist.

  • The best way to transport a tooth is to put it back into the socket. Gently place it back into its normal position. Do not be concerned if it sticks out slightly. Bite down gently on gauze or a moistened tea bag to help keep the tooth in place. Hold the tooth in the socket with your finger during transport. An adult or older child may be able to keep the tooth in his or her mouth between the gums and the cheek or under the tongue, being careful not to swallow it. A young child should not be expected to do this.
  • If the adult or child is too anxious to put the tooth in the socket or hold it between the gums and the cheek, place the tooth in milk. If milk is not available, use tap water or a nonprescription product, such as Hank's solution or Save-A-Tooth.
  • Do not put the tooth in salt water, alcohol, or mouthwash.

4. Call your dentist immediately to arrange for your care. If you are unable to talk with your dentist right away, go to a hospital emergency room immediately. Be sure to take the tooth with you.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
David Messenger, MD
Last Revised July 20, 2012

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