Trying to save a knocked out permanent tooth

12th Dec 2019

Knocking out a permanent tooth is every parent’s worst nightmare. When I see a patient with this type of dental trauma, not only do I need to be on my toes to calm the injured child, I also like to take a moment to calm down mom and dad. There is something very real about missing a body part that shakes even the most tough adult demeanor. Losing a baby tooth is not a problem for a growing child;  a new one will eventually grow in its’ place.

Kids can be very rough when they play and often times, it is something seemingly innocent, such as running across the hardwood floor in socks, that causes the dreaded knocked out tooth.  I have seen teeth get knocked out on the playground at school. Teeth have been knocked out at the local fair. One child even lost a tooth by forgetting to step down from the curb. Accidents do happen.

The most important part of saving a avulsed (dental term for completely knocked out) tooth is time. As soon as the injury happens it is important to get on the phone with your local dentist and arrange for emergency care. Better yet, if you can stomach it, try to put the tooth right back into its’ socket. The next best choice is to place the tooth in milk, control the bleeding from your child’s mouth and head to the dentist.

If the injury happens during school hours, make sure your child’s teacher knows what to do. Many schools have a jar in the nurses’ office called “Save a Tooth”. This special liquid mixture will help prolong the life of the tooth. It is still important to get to the dentist as soon as possible.

Studies have shown, that it is not only the amount of “dry time” that can affect the rate of tooth survival, it is also how quickly the tooth gets re-implanted. Unfortunately, I have seen children the next day after such trauma, because the emergency doctors at the hospital were not able to recommend a dental visit in that moment. 

This is your chance to know the protocol for your child or for children you know. If they knock out a permanent tooth, please call your dentist right away. It could be the difference between saving the tooth or losing it. Hopefully, your child is never put in this situation, but if they are, you will have the knowledge to at least try to save their tooth.

(Disclaimer- This article is not meant to provide formal medical or dental advice; it is for informational purposes only; if you or your child knocks out a tooth, please see your dentist immediately.)