What Should I Do If I Lose a Permanent Tooth?

If you or your family member have lost a permanent tooth, it is important to act quickly and take proper emergency action.  Accidents and injuries happen often while you and/or your children are playing sports, are involved in automobile or bicycle accidents, and other random incidents.  Be well informed now on how to care for a knocked-out tooth (referred to as an avulsed tooth by dentists) caused by any future mishaps.

Avulsed teeth are one of the more serious dental emergencies for your permanent teeth.  If this happens to you, you are not alone.  It is estimated that more than five million teeth are knocked out every year due to various accidents and injuries.  You read that correctly … five million teeth!  One in five children under the age of sixteen have an accident that results in the loss of a permanent adult tooth.  This age group is more prone to knocking out their teeth due to their high activity level and involvement in sports.  But just because a permanent tooth is knocked out does not necessarily mean it is lost for good.

For best results, it is ideal to visit your dentist within thirty minutes of losing your tooth.  Follow the advice below, so that your local dentist in Bethlehem, PA, Dr. Ruyak, can successfully replant your tooth for many years to come.

  • Handle your lost tooth by the crown and NOT the root! Be sure to locate your tooth quickly after the accident and handle it carefully.  Pick up the avulsed tooth by the crown (the white chewing surface that you see when you smile) and not the roots (the part of the tooth that was under your gums).  The roots can be damaged easily and are vitally important for your dentist to try and reattach your tooth.
  • Place your tooth back in the socket. It is best to carefully place the lost tooth back into its socket.  To do so, gently hold the tooth by the crown, place it in the socket and close your mouth slowly to hold the tooth in place.  Your tooth should slip right back into place; if not, do not force it into its socket.  If this is not possible (and you or your child are old enough to do so safely), place the tooth in your mouth between your cheek and gums to keep it moist while en route to the dentist. 
  • If needed, clean the tooth gently. If the lost tooth is dirty, gently clean it with milk while holding the tooth by the crown and not the root.  Milk is to be used because it helps to maintain the fluid balance in the root of the tooth. Water is not to be used because it can cause the root to swell and die, causing issues for a later tooth replant.  It is important to not use any soaps, chemicals or tissues/towels to clean the tooth. 
  • Keep the tooth moist.  In order to save your tooth, it must be kept moist from the time of the accident until you arrive at the dentist’s office.  Do so by following the steps above (placing the tooth back into its socket or in between your cheek and gums) or by placing the tooth in a cup of milk.  If milk is not available, place your tooth in a cup with your saliva covering it. 
  • See your dentist ASAP – within 30 minutes ideally. Be sure to bring the avulsed tooth with you to the dentist.  Time is of the essence and it is important to follow these suggestions quickly in order to save your tooth.  Upon arrival, Dr. Ruyak will assess the condition of your lost tooth, roots and socket.  Depending on the severity of these areas, a root canal may be performed.  Then, Dr. Ruyak will place the tooth back into its socket and splint it to your surrounding teeth to hold it in place.  The root of your tooth should firmly reattach to the bone within three to four weeks.  Your tooth should be reexamined in three to six months.

Dr. Robert Ruyak offers emergency dental services, such as replanting avulsed teeth, in the Bethlehem, PA region at his dental practice, Lasting Smiles of Bethlehem.  Whether you need a routine dental exam, cosmetic or corrective work done on your teeth or have an emergency situation, Dr. Ruyak is your trusted local dentist who offers complete dental care.  Contact Lasting Smiles of Bethlehem at (610) 861-0777 for all of your dental needs.

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