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Emergency Dental Care - Save Your Knocked-Out Tooth

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Dental emergencies do not occur only during regular daytime office hours. They can occur at any time of day, or night. One of the most common issues, a knocked-out tooth, is a dental emergency that requires immediate aid. This is due in part to the fact that a tooth might be saved if it is reasonably intact. There is a step-by-step process that should be undertaken in order to maximize the survival rate of a knocked-out tooth.

Improve the Odds and Save Your Knocked-Out Tooth

Healthy teeth cannot be forcefully removed from the mouth unless they are being professionally extracted or they have experienced some sort of physical trauma. The first thing to take into consideration when you have had a tooth knocked from its socket is the fact that it will always necessitate a dental emergency. The loss of a tooth in this manner should never be disregarded or considered in a casual manner. 

You must go to see a dentist as soon as possible or serious consequences might arise. If you do not, you may experience a severe infection and you will definitely lose the tooth. Further, you may have extensive damage to your jaw and other teeth that you are not fully aware of at the time. It is not a hopeless situation, however. If you do reach a dentist in time, and the tooth is relatively intact, you may be able to save it. 

Over 5 million teeth are knocked-out each year. Follow these steps to maximize the survival rate of your knocked-out tooth:

  1. Gently pick up the tooth by the crown. The crown of the tooth is the part that we use to chew our food. Think of it as the part that actually looks like the common image of a tooth. Never pick the tooth up by the ligaments, or the root. This can damage the tooth and prevent it from being replanted successfully.
  2. Lightly rinse the tooth off using clean water. Make sure that the water is running slowly. Use just enough to rinse the tooth, and no more. Do not use any chemicals or soap to clean it. Use nothing but water, and only do so until it has been cleansed of visible dirt and debris.
  3. Once it is clean, try to place it back into its socket. If this is impossible, place it between your cheek and gums. If it would be difficult to do this, for instance the knocked-out tooth belongs to a child or someone who is unconscious, it can be placed inside a cup of milk. Water is not considered a good storage medium as the cells of the root do not tolerate water well for extended periods. If the tooth is not one solid piece, there is still a possibility that it might be saved. Place as many fragments as possible inside of a cup of milk, just like you would with a solid tooth.
  4. At this point you need to contact and reach a dentist as quickly as possible. If all else fails, try the hospital emergency room. For best results you will need to reach help within thirty minutes. The tooth might still be saved even after an hour, but the sooner you can reach help, the better. Emergency dentists normally operate 24-hours per day, and most hospitals have someone on hand who can attend to this sort of issue due to the possibilities of car crashes and physical altercations occurring at all times of the day or night.

There are a few caveats to consider when using this process to save a knocked-out tooth. Primary teeth, also known as baby teeth, should not be reimplanted as they may cause issues with proper development. Further, if the tooth remains out of the socket for more than five minutes while not being in some sort of storage medium such as saliva or milk, it will have a drastically reduced replantation success rate. Placement of the tooth back into the socket is the preferred and most useful method of storage enroute to the dentist. Remember, never use water as the storage medium. If you must store it outside of the mouth, place the tooth inside a sealed container of milk, and pack that container in ice. A small drink cooler would be a good carrying medium for the milk-container and the ice to pack around it.

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