Replanting Or Replacing A Knocked-Out Tooth: What Your Dentist Will Do

What can a dentist actually do for a knocked-out permanent tooth? As it happens, quite a lot. Depending on how quickly you act, it may even be possible to save the tooth, despite the fact that it has left its socket.

A Chaotic Situation

An avulsed (knocked-out) permanent tooth is usually the result of blunt force trauma to the jaw, with sufficient force for the tooth to break away from its socket. Such an accident can be chaotic and it's easy to lose track of a tooth that has fallen out of your mouth. It's also easily swallowed in all the confusion.

Handling the Tooth

If located, carefully pick up the tooth. Only handle it by its crown, and don't make contact with the end that was previously embedded in your gums. This is where the tooth root's nerve endings are. These are delicate, and may still be alive for now. The tooth root's nerve endings can be preserved by holding the tooth in your cheek, or even by placing it back in its socket and holding your jaw shut. Alternatively, you can place the tooth in milk for transport, which has the necessary proteins to keep the tooth's root alive for a brief period. 

Replanting the Tooth

You only have a brief period to act. The tooth can be replanted by a dentist and splinted to the tooth on either side of the gap. The tooth's root will ideally reconnect to the socket, although the tooth may need a root canal at a later stage. 

Replacing the Tooth

A dentist may be unable to save the tooth, and there's also the possibility that the tooth was never located, making replantation impossible. No need to worry, however, because you've still got options. Your dentist may recommend proceeding with a dental implant without much delay. An implant is a titanium screw inserted into your jaw, which will have a natural-looking porcelain tooth attached once your jaw has healed.

The Sooner, the Better

Placing a dental implant shortly after a tooth is knocked out provides favorable results for the procedure. The part of your jaw bone where the tooth was located will lose density after the loss. Your jaw keeps its density because it has to support the bite pressure experienced by the teeth rooted in it. A missing tooth triggers this loss of density, and a loss of density makes it harder to anchor a dental implant. This is why it's in your best interests to act relatively quickly after the tooth has been lost.

If a tooth is knocked out and can be found, see a dentist as soon as possible. For whatever reason, if replanting the tooth isn't feasible, you'll still need to consult a dentist.