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Help! I Knocked Out a Tooth – What Do I Do?

a rose pink metal board with the words "don't panic" in the center

It’s a scary situation, no matter whether it happens to you or to a child in your care. One moment, everything’s fine. The children are playing nicely, the game is going smoothly, or you’re jogging across the street to get to the bus stop. Then – a shoelace catches, an elbow connects, or a puck veers upwards. The next moment is filled with probably a second or so of stunned silence before realizing exactly what happened, and that there’s now a gap where a tooth should be.

If this happens to you, we have exactly two words you need to focus on: don’t panic.

Teeth can, in fact, be reattached after being knocked out, so don’t mourn your smile just yet. There are some steps you’ll need to take to maximize the chances of a successful repair. Hang tight and read on.

Time Matters, So Stay Calm

If you can, it’s best to get to your Barrie dentist within 30 minutes of the tooth being knocked out (we’ll keep this article brief). Stay calm and retrieve the tooth from wherever it’s fallen. If it was knocked from a child’s mouth, it may still be inside, so check carefully.  Once you find the tooth, make sure you handle it only by the crown (the bit that sticks up above the gum line) and avoid touching the root of the tooth.

If there’s any dirt or debris stuck to the tooth, go ahead and gently rinse it off with water without physically touching the root itself. You’ll want to make sure that you don’t wipe the tooth with anything, even gauze, or pick off any bits of tissue that may be hanging from it.

If Possible, Put It Back In Your Mouth

Yes, it sounds odd, but the goal until you get to your dentist is to keep the tooth safe and moist. Holding it by the crown, gently replace the tooth into its socket. If you can’t get it back into the socket, either hold it in your cheek or in a glass of milk. You can hold it in place with your finger, or by gently biting down on top of it. If there’s a lot of bleeding (and there likely will be, since your mouth has a lot of blood vessels), you can place a bit of gauze on top of the tooth and bite down gently on that.

Get To Your Barrie Dentist

You should see your dentist as soon as possible. If you can’t get there within 30 minutes, take a deep breath, and relax. It’s possible to save teeth that have been outside of the mouth for up to an hour, so you do have some wiggle room to work with.

Once you arrive, let the dentist know which tooth has been affected, what the circumstances were, and how long it’s been since the tooth was knocked out. They’ll need this information to evaluate the state of the tooth and to plan for restoration.

What Will Happen to My Tooth?

At the office, your Barrie dentist will evaluate whether or not the tooth can be saved. If it can, it will need to remain in its socket for several weeks to reattach and regrow the connective ligaments. The dentist will therefore splint the tooth in place using the teeth on either side, typically with either a metal or plastic wire. If the tooth successfully reattaches, your dentist will verify this fact before removing the splint.

In some cases, the tooth can’t be saved – and that’s okay. You won’t have to go through life with a missing gap in your smile. Depending on the tooth that was lost, your dentist will likely recommend either an implant, which is attached to the jaw bone and functions much the same as an original tooth, or a bridge, which will function as a sort of interim tooth held in place by the teeth on either side. Implants tend to perform better and last longer, but each case is different.

Where Can I Find a Barrie Dentist?

You’re already there. At Dr. Elston Wong, we’re known for the quality of our care and the friendly, welcoming atmosphere of our office. We’ve seen the worst, and we know how to handle an emergency with calm, level attention.

Call our office at (705) 721-1143 (or 705-733-0880 for after-hours emergencies) or send us a message online. We’ll get you into the office as soon as possible and get your smile back into regular form.

Dr. Elston Wong Portrait

About Dr. Elston Wong

Dr. Elston Wong completed his dental degree at The University of Toronto in 1999 before arriving in Barrie in 2002. After graduating, he continued to learn everything he could about dentistry. Now he has taken the time to share important information for anyone to read.

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