You know it’s important to practice proper oral hygiene if you want to keep all your teeth. Brushing and flossing on a daily basis can help remove bacteria that would otherwise damage your dental tissues.
That said, no matter how vigilant you are about maintaining your oral health, it is still possible to lose teeth if you experience a facial injury. A blow to the face during a sports game can be enough to knock a tooth loose. That’s why it’s important to wear a mouthguard if you play sports or engage in similar activities that put you at risk of injury.
If you ever do lose a tooth in this manner, that doesn’t mean you have to live with a compromised smile. A dental implant can permanently replace a missing tooth in a way that both looks and feels natural. An oral surgeon can assess your needs and determine if this treatment is the best option.
However, it may not be necessary. In some instances, it’s possible to save a lost tooth if you act quickly. That’s why you should always have your dentist or oral surgeon’s number in your phone. If you contact a dental professional right away, he or she can potentially reinsert the tooth and prevent the need for implants or other substitutes.
Additionally, it’s important to know what steps you should take to keep a tooth in healthy condition if one of yours ever is knocked out.
Address Other Significant Injuries
First, as soon as you notice you’ve lost a tooth, address any immediate injuries to ensure you’re healthy and safe. An injury that results in a lost tooth could cause other forms of harm. You don’t want to hurt yourself even more by not addressing these injuries immediately.
Find the Tooth
Once you know you’re not otherwise injured, get control of the situation so you can find the lost tooth. For example, if you lose your tooth in the middle of a sports match, get everyone to stop playing so you can begin searching.
It shouldn’t be too difficult to find a missing tooth if you cover the general area where the injury occurred. Keep in mind, you want to act within 30 minutes to increase your odds of saving the tooth.
Treat It Gently to Avoid Further Damage
Don’t simply grab your tooth the moment you find it. When you pick up the lost tooth, it’s important to hold it gently by the crown, the section that you chew with. Never touch the root section of the tooth.
You may need to slightly clean the tooth depending on its condition when you find it. If so, rinse it gently with water, but don’t use any soap or other cleaning products. Don’t scrub it or wipe it off with a washcloth or similar material either. Doing so could cause more damage to the root section and/or ligaments.
Reinsert the Tooth into the Socket If Possible
In some cases, it’s possible to reinsert the tooth directly back into the socket. Use moderately firm pressure to keep it in place. You’ll still need to see an oral surgeon or other dental professional to confirm it has been successfully re-inserted, but this step may be key to saving the tooth.
Consult a Dental Professional As Soon As Possible
Don’t worry if you are tooth won’t remain in the socket. If you can’t get it to stay in place, simply focus on keeping it moist until you reach a dental professional’s office. Keeping it submerged in milk will help it stay moist enough to remain healthy. Don’t submerge it in tap water, as this may also damage the root.
The process of inserting the tooth back into your mouth varies on a patient-by-patient basis. Sometimes it’s as simple as removing debris from the socket, inserting the tooth into the socket, and splinting it for several days so it remains in place.
However, the process can be somewhat more complicated if the tooth or bone has been damaged. Other dental professionals may be asked to help if repairs or restorations need to be made to the tooth. Additionally, it’s often necessary to perform a root canal to preserve the tooth and keep it healthy.
Monitor Your Tooth As It Heals
Monitor the condition of the tooth for the next several weeks if you do have it re-inserted after an accident. The tooth should heal if you see a professional quickly enough, but you want to make sure it doesn’t loosen or cause you any discomfort.
Again, if you’re not able to save a lost tooth, there are options for replacing it. You can also potentially avoid these types of injuries by protecting your teeth during physical activity.
However, if an accident does occur, following these steps can allow you to keep all your original teeth for life. Keep these tips in mind no matter what kind of lifestyle you lead. You may not be able to prevent all injuries, but sometimes you can prevent unwanted consequences.