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Knocked Out

No one plans to knock out a permanent adult tooth, but responding quickly to an incident makes the difference between saving the tooth versus losing it forever. The complete removal of the tooth from the socket and finding it on the floor (yikes!) is called an avulsion. In this case, the tooth is completely severed from its nerve and blood supply in which a timely response is needed to save it. (Please note, that if it is a baby tooth, you do not need to save it.) So what do you do when your adult tooth is knocked out?

First you need to find it. Yes, find the tooth, get the people around you to help you look. Chances are you may not be in the best shape yourself to look for it since you just suffered a head injury. When you pick it up, do not touch the root. Only pick it up by the crown with your fingers. It is essential that the root is not touched for the tooth’s long term survival.

Second, rinse it off with clean water. Do not rinse it off with any other chemicals, just water. Do not scrub the tooth, wrap it in a napkin, or dry it.

Third, re-insert it into your tooth socket. This is the best place to keep the tooth, in its original environment. If you are unable to, then store the tooth in water, milk, or saliva (by placing it inside your cheek). There is one other medium you can store it in but the chances of it being readily available may not be possible. It is a tooth preservation kit called save- a- tooth. If you are a sports coach, you should have one in your first aid kit and they can be purchased from any pharmacy.

Fourth, get to a dentist fast. Your dentist will assess you to see if you have any jaw fractures, other damaged teeth, or cuts in your soft tissues. Your dentist will splint the tooth by gluing it next to the adjacent teeth. The splint stays on for a couple weeks until everything heals. Once everything is healed up, the tooth will most likely need a root canal. You may also need to see your physician the day of the injury to make sure your tetanus shot is up to date.

I was inspired to write this article to support a patient of mine who recently knocked out a tooth in a trampoline park. I have had many patients with tooth injuries from such places. So be super careful out there!

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