What Should You Do If You Lose a Tooth?
by Dr. Scott Bolding
You may panic a bit as you hold your tooth in your hand. You probably wonder what you should do. Can you put it back in your mouth? Will you need to replace it? Should you go to the ER or your dentist?
Not knowing the answer to these questions can make losing an adult tooth even more stressful. Luckily, we’re here to help. Below, we’ll discuss what to do if your adult tooth falls out. We’ll give you step-by-step instructions on how to take care of your tooth on the way to the dentist. And we’ll discuss your options if your tooth isn’t able to be replanted.
The most important thing to know is that if your adult tooth falls out, you need to go to your dentist right away. Getting that tooth replanted or replaced is crucial to your oral health.
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What to Do If Your Adult Tooth Falls Out
If you’ve lost an adult tooth you need to act quickly. It’s possible for your dentist to replant the tooth, but you have a small window of opportunity to make it work. Follow these steps to ensure your tooth is safe.
Rinse your tooth.
You’ll want to rinse your tooth off first of all. Rinse it with milk or a saline solution. Do not scrub it. Scrubbing your tooth will rub off important fibers that make reattachment possible.
Put the tooth back in the empty socket.
The first thing you need to try is to put the tooth back in your mouth. Try to see if it’ll fit back into the empty socket. If you can’t get it back in for some reason, you can store it in milk or a saline solution.
Get the dentist ASAP.
You need to get to your dentist quickly. They can reattach the tooth, but you only have about an hour for that to be possible. Call your dentist before you go so they can be ready when you get there.
What Not to Do If Your Adult Tooth Falls Out
Here are some quick tips for what you should not do if your adult tooth falls out. Avoiding these things is important to a successful replant.
Don’t touch the root.
Whenever you have to handle your tooth, do not touch the root. Only hold it by the crown. Touching the root will damage it, making it more difficult to get it back in your mouth.
Don’t go to the ER.
The emergency room is the first place people want to go to in situations like this. But unfortunately, the ER is not equipped to handle dental emergencies like this. Your dentist is the best option if you lose a tooth.
Don’t wash your tooth with soap.
Soap is too harsh for your tooth. And you’ll likely rub off the fibers that are important for replanting the tooth.
Don’t store the tooth in water.
If you can’t get your tooth back in the socket, you’ll need to store it while you go to the dentist. It may be tempting to store it in water. But water won’t preserve the tooth properly. Store it in saline or milk instead.
Why Do Adult Teeth Fall Out?
Now that we’ve talked about what to do if you lose a tooth, let’s look at the reasons why adult teeth fall out. There are two main reasons for losing adult teeth: poor dental hygiene and injuries.
Not taking care of your teeth leads to gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. Periodontal disease happens when your teeth and gums are infected. Your gums become swollen and inflamed because of the bacteria in your mouth. As the disease spreads, the gums pull away from your tooth. You can also experience bone loss. When this happens your teeth become loose and eventually fall out.
The best way to prevent this is by practicing good oral hygiene. Brush and floss twice every day. Make sure you visit your dentist twice a year for regular cleanings. Doing these simple things will keep your mouth healthy, preventing disease and adult tooth loss.
The other reason for losing adult teeth is an injury. Injuries to your face can happen in a number of different situations. They can fall out if you’re in a car or other type of accident. However, you’re most likely to lose an adult tooth while playing sports. Regularly playing a contact sport like football or basketball increases the chances of knocking one of your teeth out.
To avoid losing a tooth wear a mouthguard whenever you play.
What Happens If You Can’t Replant Your Tooth?
If you lose a tooth, it is possible to replant it. In fact, that’s the best thing to do. However, this isn’t always possible. Sometimes, there’s just too much nerve damage for the tooth to reattach in your mouth. When this happens you’ll need to replace your missing tooth.
Not replacing your missing tooth can lead to a number of oral health problems. The open gap in your teeth is susceptible to infection. If this area becomes infected it can lead to more tooth loss. The teeth surrounding the gap will also start to shift. This can cause problems with your bite. A bad bite forces your mouth to work harder when you eat, leading to issues like TMJ disorders.
There are several options for replacing your missing tooth.
- Partial dentures
- Dental implants
Your dentist will review these options with you. The right one for you will depend on your situation.
Dental implants are probably the best option for replacing your missing tooth. A dental implant is a replacement tooth root with a crown attached to it. The root is drilled into the gap and the crown is placed on top.
Dental implants are the only permanent solution for missing teeth. They also require the least maintenance. You treat them just like your other teeth. For most people, dental implants are also the most comfortable option because they look and feel like your natural teeth.
A dental bridge has one or more crowns that go on either side of the gap. These crowns work as an anchor for the bridge. Then there’s a false tooth in between that fills in the gap left by your missing tooth.
Dental bridges are a great option if you’re not a good candidate for dental implants. Dental implants require a certain amount of bone density in order to work. If the bones in your jaw are too weak a dental bridge is something to consider. They are not permanent like dental implants and they do require more maintenance. But a dental bridge is worth discussing with your dentist.
A partial denture has a false tooth that rests on a plastic or metal plate. You can remove partial dentures in order to clean them. Once again, if you’re not a candidate for dental implants then partial dentures are an option. However, keep in mind that they do require more maintenance than implants.
Dental, I. (2022, December 1). What To Do When You Lose An Adult Tooth. Imagine Dental. https://cosmeticdentistahwatukee.com/what-to-do-when-you-lose-an-adult-tooth/
Ddclt, T. T. A. (2022, April 25). What To Do After You Lose A Permanent Tooth | District Dentistry. District Dentistry Charlotte Uptown Dentist. https://districtdentistryclt.com/dental-tips/what-to-do-after-you-lose-a-permanent-tooth/
Tooth loss: First aid. (2018, February 2). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-tooth-loss/basics/art-20056635?reDate=20022023
Did You Lose an Adult Tooth?
No Need to Worry
If you’ve lost your adult tooth you need to get help right away. Ideally, the tooth can be replanted. However, this isn’t always possible. In some cases, you’ll need to consider dental implants, bridges, or partial dentures.
Losing an adult tooth can be stressful. But with the right dental tooth on your side, it doesn’t have to be. At PRECiDENT Center for Facial and Dental Medicine, we are here to help. If you’ve lost an adult tooth give us a call. We are ready to help replant it or discuss other options.