Tooth loss

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First aid: Tooth loss

If your tooth is knocked out, get emergency dental care. It's sometimes possible to successfully implant permanent teeth that have been knocked out, but only if you follow the steps below immediately — before you see a dentist.

If your tooth is knocked out:

  • Handle your tooth by the top or crown only, not the roots.
  • Don't rub it or scrape it to remove debris. This damages the root surface, making the tooth less likely to survive.
  • Gently rinse your tooth in a bowl of tap water. Don't hold it under running water.
  • Try to replace your tooth in the socket. If it doesn't go all the way into place, bite down slowly and gently on gauze or a moistened tea bag to help keep it in place. Hold the tooth in place until you see your dentist.
  • If you can't replace your tooth in the socket, immediately place it in some milk, your own saliva or a warm, mild saltwater solution — 1/4 teaspoon salt to 1 quart water (about 1 milliliter of salt to about 1 liter water).
  • Get medical attention from a dentist or emergency room immediately.

If you participate in contact sports, you can often prevent tooth loss by wearing a mouth guard, fitted by your dentist.

Last Updated: 2009-11-14
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