A Root Canal

How To Correctly Handle Knocked-Out Teeth To Maximize Reimplantation Success

Dental avulsion is the official name for when a tooth is literally knocked out of its socket. This type of trauma is typically caused by being hit in the face with an object. The good news about this type of injury is the tooth can sometimes be reimplanted into the mouth, as long as it's a permanent tooth and the person obtains dental care within 30 minutes. How the tooth is handled after the trauma can greatly affect the chances of successful reimplantaion, so here's what you need to do immediately after a tooth is knocked out.

The Importance of Protecting the Tooth

When a tooth is torn from the jaw, the periodontal ligament anchoring it in place rips in half. Preserving the tissue that remains on the tooth is paramount, because this tissue contains cells that will fuse with the tissue left on the alveolar bone in the socket, securing the tooth back in place. The cells won't live long outside the mouth, which is why it's important to get the affected person to the dentist as soon as possible for treatment.

Clean the Tooth

The first thing to do is to clean the tooth. Pick up the tooth by the crown, taking care to avoid touching the root. Rinse it off with plain cool water or a saline solution for no longer than 10 seconds. Do not use soap or chemicals, scrub the tooth with any type of instrument including your fingers, or even dry the tooth off. Avoid touching the root at all because doing so may destroy the cells there.

Reinsert in the Socket

The best place to store the tooth is back in its socket. Rinse out the mouth with water or a saline solution and then gently insert the tooth back into the hole it came out of. Have the person bite down on a handkerchief to hold the tooth in place.

However, only do this if the tooth is a permanent one. Attempting to place a primary tooth back into the socket may damage the socket and impede the ability of the secondary tooth to grow in.

You can tell the difference between primary and secondary teeth because primary teeth have short crowns, thin layers of enamel and dentin, and roots that are narrower, longer, and thinner when compared to the crown. Most people lose all of their baby teeth by age 12 or 13. So if the person is around that age or older, chances are good the tooth is a secondary permanent one.

If you're not sure whether the tooth is primary or secondary, err on the side of caution and simply store the tooth until you can get to the dentist. You should also avoid attempting to reinsert teeth if the person had more than one knocked out in the same incident. It may be difficult to tell which tooth goes into which hole.

Store Appropriately

If the tooth cannot be reinserted, it should be stored in a solution specially designed for preserving the cells. Tooth preservation kits can be purchased at most drug stores. These kits contain metabolites and glucose, two substances needed to keep the cells on the tooth root alive.

If a kit is not available, the tooth can be preserved by storing it in milk. Although milk doesn't have the properties needed to feed the cells, it is the least damaging storage medium. However, only use whole cow's milk. Low-fat milk, skim milk, almond milk, heavy cream and other assort milks or milk products don't have the correct fluid pressure to preserve the cells.

It's frequently recommended that people store knocked out teeth in salt water or the mouth. Both of these options are counterproductive. Table salt is damaging to the tooth and leftover cells, while the bacteria in the mouth may kill the cells or cause infection. Additionally, the pressure from being under the tongue or placed against the cheek as is typically recommended will crush the cells.

See a Dentist Immediately

An avulsed tooth is a dental emergency and, as mentioned previously, you can maximize the likelihood of saving the tooth if you get to a dentist within 30 minutes. However, it may still be possible to save teeth that have been left out longer than that if the tooth is properly stored.

For more information on saving an avulsed tooth or to get your tooth fixed, contact an emergency dentist indio ca.