When you’re a child and you lose a tooth, it’s usually a cause for celebration that is highlighted by a visit from the tooth fairy. When you’re an adult and you lose a tooth, it’s usually coupled with pain, panic and hopefully a quick trip to the dentist.
Nobody expects to lose a tooth, but between car accidents, athletic activity, and accidental trips and falls, knocking out a permanent tooth happens more than you might imagine. So what should you do if you find yourself missing a tooth after trauma to the face? We explain how to help save your smile in today’s blog.
What To Do After Chipping Or Losing A Permanent Tooth
Let’s say you bite down on a jawbreaker or on a ting of your fork and notice that you chipped your tooth. In this situation, try to find the broken off piece and save it in a small container. Same goes for if the whole tooth is knocked out. Try to find the loose tooth or pieces and store it in a small container, and consider adding a saline solution or milk to the container, as this will help keep the tooth healthy while you travel to the dentist. In rarer cases, you may be able to put the tooth back into the socket from where it came loose, so you can also keep the tooth in your mouth, just be sure it’s secure enough that you won’t swallow it.
Your next step is to get to a dentist’s office as soon as possible because time is of the essence. This is by no means a perfect time chart, but it does help paint a picture on how important it is to get to a dentist soon after losing a permanent tooth:
- Within 5 Minutes – If you can put the tooth back in the socket within five minutes after losing it, there’s a good chance it can heal. You’ll still want to make your way to the dentist as soon as possible so they can help ensure it is secured.
- Between 5 Minutes and 60 Minutes – If you can get to a dentist and have the tooth secured in the socket within an hour of losing it, there’s a good chance the tooth will survive so long as it was stored properly in route to your dentist’s office.
- More Than 60 Minutes – If the tooth remains out of the socket for more than an hour, the chance of saving the tooth decreases significantly the longer it remains out of your mouth.
At the dentist’s office, or the emergency department if it’s after hours, the tooth will likely be implanted and splinted to the adjacent teeth for up to eight weeks. A root canal will also be performed at some point to help ensure the long-term survival of the tooth.
Dr. Brooks has saved countless teeth in his tenure as a dentist, but remember that prevention is always preferred to treatment. You’re 60 times less likely to lose a tooth during athletics if you’re wearing a mouthguard, so be sure you are wearing a mouthguard when playing sports. For more information about caring for damaged or lost teeth, or to set up an appointment with a dentist, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.