If you’re the kind of person who plans ahead, chances are you have a First Aid Kit stocked with bandages, antibacterial ointments, and other things you might need in case of illness or injury. That’s smart. But your kit may be missing one VERY important thing –the information you need to save a tooth that’s been knocked out.
Not that a knocked-out tooth happens every day. But as long people drive cars, play sports and trip over toys, accidents are going to happen. So it’s important to be prepared – especially since once a tooth has been knocked out, you have just 30 minutes to save it.
An Ounce of Prevention
Of course your best first step is stopping accidents before they happen by doing things like always using your seat belt and wearing a custom mouth guard when you’re playing sports. But even with the best of planning, accidents CAN happen – so you need to be prepared. Which is why we suggest you print the SIX CRUCIAL STEPS we are about to give you and tuck them inside your First Aid Kit.
Before we give you the steps, though, one word of caution: Before you act to help someone who has had a tooth knocked out, you need to make sure he or she doesn’t have any other, more serious injuries. If the person is not conscious and is unresponsive, and if you are not trained in Basic Life Support, dial 911 (or the appropriate emergency response number in your area) and follow the instructions of the emergency operator).
The SIX KEY STEPS to SAVING a TOOTH
If the knocked-out tooth is the main problem, follow these steps carefully. You’ll need to work fast – which is why I’m suggesting your keep this information handy.
1: Find the tooth and pick it up. Hold it only by the crown so you don’t damage the tiny ligaments on the root.
2: Rinse it off quickly in water or milk. Never scrub or use chemicals like hydrogen peroxide or alcohol.1
3: If possible, put the tooth back into its socket, being careful to make sure it’s facing in the right direction. You can hold it in place by biting down gently on
something soft but firm.
4: If the tooth can’t be replaced in its socket it can be carried between the cheek and gum. If the person who lost the tooth can’t do this safely, someone else can do it for them. (Keeping the tooth in someone’s mouth helps keep the root moist and protect against bacteria.)2
It’s important, though, to make absolutely sure that whoever carries the tooth isn’t likely to swallow it or inhale it and choke. If you think there’s ANY chance of that happening DO NOT risk transporting it in this manner.
5: If there’s no one who can carry it in his or her mouth safely, put it in a small container and cover it with milk or saliva. Don’t let it dry out! That can cause damage in just a few minutes.
6: Call us RIGHT AWAY so we can arrange for you to get treatment. The sooner you are seen, the better chance there is for saving the tooth.
There you have it, ready to print and save. And, if you have any questions, please just ask Ballantyne Center for Dentistry in Charlotte NC. As always, we want you to have all the information you need.