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Dealing with an Adult Tooth Knocked Out

(Note: A baby tooth knocked out should be handled differently.)

An adult tooth that's knocked out will not grow back. If you get to the dentist quickly enough, and the tooth is not too badly damaged, there's a chance the dentist can re-insert the tooth.

To have any chance of re-inserting the tooth successfully, you need to pick up the tooth, keep it safe, and get to a dentist immediately. Time is crucial, so you must get to a dentist in less than 30 minutes.

  1. Find the tooth and hold it gently by the smooth white part that is normally outside the gum (called the “crown” of the tooth). Don't hold the tooth by its root (the part normally inside the gum).
  2. If the tooth is dirty, rinse it carefully in saline, milk, or for a few seconds under water. If the owner of the tooth is calm and co-operative, they can also very gently suck the tooth clean.
  3. Do not scrape the surface of the tooth (especially not the surface of the root) or remove any flesh from the tooth.
  4. Put the tooth carefully back in its socket, where it came from. Make sure the tooth is facing the right way round. Replacing the tooth in the first 5–10 minutes is important and very helpful.
  5. Hold the tooth in place by having the patient bite gently on a soft cloth. Aluminium foil can also be used, by folding the foil over the damaged tooth and a few teeth on either side, like a mouthguard to keep them all together.

If you can't put the tooth back in for any reason, it's important that you:

  • Don't let the tooth dry out. Keep the tooth moist, by storing it in a container of milk, or sealing it in glad wrap, or asking a co-operative patient to gently hold the tooth in the part of the mouth between the teeth and the cheek.
  • Don't store the tooth in water, or put it in hot water or ice. These will all damage the tooth.