What to Do (And What Not to Do) When You Lose an Adult Tooth

Lost and dislodged adult teeth are one of the most common dental emergencies. There are many things that could cause you to unexpectedly lose an adult tooth, such as trauma to the mouth. Should this dental emergency happen to you, knowing what to do could be the difference between saving your tooth and needing a dental implant to replace it.

Collect the Tooth, If Possible

First of all, if you can locate and collect the lost tooth, do so as soon as possible. When handling the tooth, try not to touch it around the root (the part of the tooth that falls under the gum line). The root of the tooth contains important tissues that need to be intact if you want to have a chance of salvaging your tooth.

Place Tooth Back into Socket

If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse it with water while still being careful not to disturb the tissues on the root. Don't use any chemicals or other cleaners on the tooth, and try to keep it moist so as to prevent the tissues from drying out. If possible, gently slide the root of the tooth back into the socket, using your finger or pressure from biting down to keep it in place until you're able to see a dentist. 

Store the Tooth Properly

If you're unable to place the tooth back into the socket for any reason, store the tooth properly and bring it with you to your emergency dentist appointment. The best place to store the tooth is in a small cup or bag of milk, though in a pinch, you can also keep the tooth inside your mouth (being extremely careful not to swallow it). Storing the tooth in regular water is not advised, as this can damage the tissue on the root.

See a Dentist Immediately

Ideally, you should be seen by an emergency dentist within 30 minutes after losing a tooth. However, depending on the condition of your tooth, it is possible that the tooth can still be salvaged an hour or more after the initial loss. Still, the sooner you're seen by a dentist, the greater the chances that the tooth can be saved.

Keep in mind that even if the tooth can be saved, a root canal will need to be performed on the tooth since the nerves will no longer be connected. Still, this is a better alternative to needing a dental implant or crown to replace the lost tooth!