Oral Health

Updated 18 January 2018

Saving knocked-out teeth

A knocked out tooth doesn't have to be a life-long gap in your smile. Quick action can actually save your chomper.

If your tooth gets knocked out while playing sports or due to any other cause, quick and proper action can still help save it, according to experts at the American Association of Endodontists.

Here's what you need to do:
  • Pick up the tooth by the crown (chewing surface), not by the root. Handle the tooth carefully by the crown, avoiding the tooth opening, to help minimise injury to the root.
  • If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse it with a spray of water. Don't use soap or chemicals, scrub or dry the tooth, or wrap it in a tissue or cloth.
  • If possible, immediately reposition the tooth in the socket. The sooner the tooth is replaced in the socket, the better its chance of being saved. To reinsert the tooth, carefully push the tooth into the socket, or position the tooth above the socket and close the mouth slowly. Hold the tooth in place with your fingers or by gently biting down on it.
  • Keep the tooth moist at all times. Don't allow it to dry out. If you can't place it back in the socket, put it in a glass of milk or in your mouth next to the cheek. If neither of these choices is practical, put the tooth in water, with a pinch of salt.
  • See an endodontist within 30 minutes. An endodontist is a dentist who specialises in traumatic tooth injuries. Seeking professional help within 30 minutes significantly improves the likelihood that the tooth can be successfully re-implanted.

While it's possible to save a tooth that's been knocked out, prevention is the best medicine, the experts said. Athletes should wear proper mouth or face protection.


Read more:

What to eat for white teeth

Facts on first aid

Image of  tooth from Shutterstock


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Oral health expert

Dr Imraan Hoosen qualified from the Medical University of South Africa in 1997. Together with his partner, Dr Hoosen now runs a group of dental practices around Johannesburg (Lesedi Private Hospital, Highlands North Medical Centre , Brenthurst Clinic, Parklane Clinic, Simmonds Street Medical and Dental Centre, Soni Medical Centre- Newclare). Dr Hoosen can be contacted on 011 933 4096.

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