Not many people realise, but if you happen to have a tooth knocked out, it is classed as a medical emergency.
If that should happen to you, you should get yourself to a dentist as soon as possible for treatment.
If you have the tooth still with you, try re-inserting it back into position but if you’re unable to do this, store the tooth in a small container of milk. If you’re unable to see your usual dentist, an emergency out of hours dental service is usually the alternative.
You can contact NHS emergency dental care on 111, but only call this number if your own dentist is unavailable or if you don’t have one.
If your tooth is chipped instead of broken, then contact your dentist for an appointment to have the tooth filled and smoothed over. A chipped tooth isn’t a medical emergency and can wait until your dentist is open.
What to do if you’ve knocked a tooth out.
If you’ve lost a tooth through some kind of trauma to the mouth then the first thing to do is find the tooth you’ve had knocked out.
Hold the tooth by the crown and either lick it clean or rinse it in clean water.
For adults, try placing the tooth back into position. To re-establish the tooth back into its socket, you can try biting on a folded handkerchief to force the tooth back into position. Re-positioning the tooth this way only applies to adult teeth and is not recommended for children who have lost a baby tooth.
Go straight to see an emergency dentist in your area.
If you’re unable to re-insert the tooth back into position then put the tooth into a container of milk and go straight to the dentist.
Time is important and the sooner a tooth that has been knocked out can be re-implanted, the better the chances of saving it are.
Baby teeth that are knocked out by children shouldn’t be attempted for re-insertion. It’s likely that there is an adult teeth coming through which could be damaged if you attempt to re-insert the tooth. You should take your child to the dentist immediately for treatment.
What will the dentist do?
If you’ve successfully re-inserted the tooth you’ve knocked out then the dentist will take a look to make sure it’s positioned correctly and may also take an x-ray of the affected tooth. A splint is likely to be inserted which will hold the tooth in position for a couple of weeks while the tooth re-emdeds itself.
If your lost tooth is in milk then the dentist will attempt to re-insert the tooth for you. This will likely involve an injection to numb the area so that you don’t feel any pain. The dentist will take an x-ray to check the tooth is in the correct position and then use splints to hold it in position for a couple of weeks.
What if I don’t have the tooth?
If you can find the tooth you’ve knocked out then there are still options to consider.
You could have a denture fitted which is a false tooth that can be removed for cleaning.
Another option is to have a bridge fitted – this is where a false tooth is attached to your existing teeth with a strong glue.
Finally, you can also have an impant to replace a lost tooth.
Having either a bridge, denture or impant will help to improve the appearance when you smile which can also help with self-confidence. Some people however aren’t bothered about gaps in their front teeth and are happy not to have any remedial treatment. Your dentist will be able to advise the best treatment options most suitable for your situation.
What to with a broken or chipped tooth.
In the case of a broken or chipped tooth, find the piece or fragment of tooth if you can and store in milk. Arrange to see the dentist as possible. Taking the fragment with you to the dentist may mean they will be able to glue it back on to the tooth from which it came from.
If you’re unable to find the piece of missing tooth, don’t worry as the dentist will use a filling, matching your tooth colour, to build the tooth back up. If one of the back teeth is broken, then a filling or crown may be needed.
Sometimes, a broken tooth can expose nerves which will cause extreme sensitivity and discomfort. In this case, a root canal treatment may be needed. You can find out more about root canals here, but it involves removing the nerve and adding a root filling.
Teeth Protection when playing sports
If you are a keen sports player, playing games such as hockey, rugby and football then there’s a risk you might get hit in the mouth at some point. A custom mouthguard is therefore something you might want to consider and this can be made by your dentist.
First the dentist will take a mould of your teeth and this will be used as a template to make your mouthguard from. Once made, the dentist will ask you to return to the surgery to have the mouthguard fitted.
There is a cheaper option when it comes to mouthguards and this is the boil and bite type. The mouthguard is placed in very hot water first to soften it up, then you insert it into your mouth and bite down on it so that it moulds to the shape of your teeth. Whilst this type of mouthgaurd does offer protection, custom made guards from your dentist are more comfortable to wear and offer more protection.