Don't Grin and Bear It: How to Cope with Broken and Knocked-Out Teeth

Posted on: 24 August 2017

Broken and knocked-out teeth are more common than you may think.  All it takes is a nasty fall against an unforgiving surface - but thankfully, with dental assistance, these emergencies need not result in permanent, irreparable damage.  So long as you know how to respond in the first instance after this happens, you stand a good chance of not only saving your smile, but also keeping the chipped or broken tooth.  Here's what to do.

Prioritise

If you're alone when this dental emergency occurs, focus first on caring for your tooth - then on contacting a dentist.  Those few extra moments may help to save your tooth; what happens immediately after the tooth comes out can make a huge difference.  If you're not alone, have the person you're with contact the dentist immediately while you progress through these steps.

Clean Carefully

Quickly wash the tooth - or partial tooth - to clear it of any dirt or bacteria that it may have come into contact with while out of your mouth.  Be very careful as you clean - firstly, so that you don't touch the root if it is exposed, and secondly so that you don't wash away any small fragments; it's best to keep them, however small.  This need not be too thorough - it's just a precaution before the more important follow-up.

Replace It, If Possible...

This may sound odd, but you should return the tooth or fragment to its place in your mouth as soon as possible.  Hold it there.  This can help the tooth 'knit' back into position once it's permanently replaced; unfortunately, if it's away from your mouth for too long, it can be impossible for the tooth to 'take' again, and it will need to be replaced with a crown or false tooth.

...If Not, Store in Milk

Putting the tooth back into its socket is the far preferable option; if at all possible, that is what you should do.  However, in the event that you're unable to return it to your mouth for whatever reason, store the tooth in milk.  If milk is not available, either hold it in your mouth away from the socket or store it in water.  The main thing is that the tooth must not be allowed to dry out.  If it does, it can't be saved; you will lose it permanently.

Proceed to Your Dentist

Once this is all done, make your way to an emergency dentist as quickly as possible.  If you have not already had a chance, call in advance to ensure they know that you're coming.  Prioritise closeness over anything else; if your usual dentist is forty minutes away but you're right beside a clinic you've never visited, take the nearer clinic.  It could mean the difference between saving or losing your tooth.

Of course, there are never any guarantees with any kind of medicine, and dentistry is no different - but if you can follow these steps, you will greatly increase your chances of saving the tooth.

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