Dealing with Dental Emergencies: What to Do About Knocked-Out or Loosened Teeth

9 November 2018

If you're involved in an accident that knocks out or loosens a tooth, it's only natural that you'll have plenty of your mind in the immediate aftermath. However, despite the pain and shock, if you can keep your wits about you it's entirely possible you could save the tooth.

However, time is of the essence. You've got at most an hour from the incident to get emergency treatment from a dentist. Following the right steps in the meantime will greatly improve your chances of saving the tooth. Here's what to do.

Fully Knocked-Out Teeth

If the tooth has been knocked completely out of place, you need to move fast.

  • Have someone phone an emergency dentist to explain the situation and arrange an appointment as soon as possible.
  • Locate the missing tooth and pick it up by the tip of the crown.
  • Gently rinse the tooth in warm water to remove any dirt, but don't scrub it and don't use toothpaste or any other cleaner.
  • Don't try to tidy up the root end by wiping off attached tissues or other debris.
  • Don't dry the tooth or wrap it in cloth or tissue paper.
  • If possible, place the whole tooth back in its original position. Hold it in place with a clean finger while you head to the emergency dental surgery.
  • If the pain is too great to put the tooth in its socket, or if you're dealing with an uncooperative child, keep the tooth in a cup of milk or lightly salted water.
  • Press a wrapped ice cube or other cold compress to the outside of the cheek over the painful area. This dulls the pain a little, but also keeps swelling down to make the dentist's job easier.
  • Get to the dentist as soon as you safely can.

Partially Dislodged and Loosened Teeth

If the tooth is only knocked loose rather than fully dislodged, contact the emergency dentist and get attention as soon as you can. Root damage could still threaten complete tooth loss if it's not dealt with promptly.

Partially dislodged teeth can actually be more painful than fully knocked-out ones, so dealing with the discomfort in the meantime is important.

  • First, gently rinse out the mouth with warm water to remove blood and any debris.
  • Apply a cold compress to the outside of the cheek to numb pain and help keep swelling under control.
  • Take pain killers if needed. Make sure to keep a note of the type of drug that was used, its strength and amount, and when it was taken.
  • Be careful that the tooth doesn't come completely loose and get swallowed or lost.
  • Again, get to the dental surgery as soon as safely possible.

Any accident which dislodges teeth is a painful and traumatic experience. But it doesn't need to mean permanent tooth loss. Following these steps in the short time it takes to get to an emergency dentist could do a lot to help save your smile.

Lefko Centre Dentaire de l’Aéroport
Dr. Ioannis (Yannis) Gkomouzas