A Knocked-out Tooth

These are commonly knocked out in older children and sometimes in adults. If one of these teeth is knocked out it is vital that:
  • It should be put back into its socket as soon as possible, and then you see a dentist as soon as possible to secure the tooth. This should be done within an hour of the injury.
An adult at the scene of the accident will usually be able to place the tooth back into its socket in the injured person's mouth.
  • Do not delay doing this. Do not wait to see a dentist.
  • If the tooth is clean, do it straightaway and then seek dental help.
  • Hold the tooth by the crown (the white shiny part normally seen in the mouth) and not the root. The root has delicate cells needed to attach the tooth so try not to touch this part.
  • Take care to get the tooth the right way around.
  • Once back in, get the injured person to bite gently on a handkerchief until seen by a dentist.

What if the tooth is dirty?

A tooth may be knocked into some mud or dirt. Rinse the tooth in some cold water or milk. Do not scrub it or put it in disinfectant. This will damage the delicate cells on the root needed to attach the tooth back to the gum.

Why is it best put back straightaway?

The cells at the root of the tooth will usually attach firmly back to the tooth socket if they do not die. These cells at the root of the tooth will soon dry out and die if the tooth is not put back quickly. If they die, the tooth will not attach again. The sooner a tooth is put back, the greater the chance of success.

Preventing injury to teeth

Teeth are often damaged in accidents during sports. This can be prevented with a mouth guard which can be bought from sports shops or be fitted by your dentist. Some helmets also offer protection to the teeth.

What happens next?

Children or adults who have certain heart problems such as murmurs or valve problems may need to take a course of antibiotic medicine after a tooth is knocked out. Antibiotics can be prescribed by the dentist or the emergency department.
A tooth which has been replaced into its socket will usually be attached to a neighbouring tooth with a splint to hold it in place while it heals. Sometimes a replaced tooth will become discoloured and may require further work by the dentist.