Doing the right thing in a dental emergency can mean saving a tooth!
It’s usually after a knock or collision during sport or another accident, and a tooth has come right out. Often it is children or teenagers involved and the future of their adult teeth. As with all emergency first aid, knowing what to do can really make the difference between saving or losing this tooth.
Time is crucial… call a dentist!
For best results, the tooth should be replaced in its socket within an hour.
First aid before you get to the dentist:
GENTLY clean the tooth with water or milk (because they are neutral pH solutions) GENTLY rinse the tooth – do not scrub or wipe the tooth. This is important to avoid damaging the tooth tissue, particularly at the roots.
If water or milk are not close at hand, saliva is another option. Though it sounds unappealing, even sucking off any grime and foreign bacteria will help to save the tooth.
Storing and transporting the tooth:
Teeth belong in the mouth, so if possible and you are comfortable, replace the tooth into the hole. Take a moment to orientate it – checking it’s not going in backwards! If this isn’t possible (or too much to think about) tuck it between the gum and cheek to keep the tooth moist and in its normal environment.
Leaving the tooth in milk during the trip to the dentist is not as good for the tooth.
Still see a dentist!
The nearest open dentist is the best option. The dentist will check that the tooth is complete, with no broken roots which may still be in the gum. They will also check the position of the tooth reposition if possible and splint or stabilise the tooth, to give it the best chance of ‘taking’.
NOTE: Visiting a hospital emergency department is likely to result in waiting time for a dentist to be called in, or being referred on to one.
Be reassured: calling the out-of-hours or weekend phone is entirely appropriate in these cases.