Did You Know You Can Re-Implant Lost Teeth?
Most people assume that if you’re unfortunate enough to have one of your teeth knocked out, it’s gone forever. If it’s a baby tooth, that’s probably the case, since there’s little sense in trying to replace it when a permanent tooth will eventually grow in that same spot. But if the lost tooth is a permanent (i.e., adult) one, you might be surprised to know that if you act quickly, you can get a dentist to re-implant it.
Unfortunately, only about 10% of people who lose teeth are able to act fast enough to do so. Teeth begin dying within 15 minutes of being dislodged from the mouth and are typically dead within an hour. After that time, they can’t re-implanted, so rapid response is crucial. Anyone finding themselves in a toothless situation should follow the steps below as quickly and efficiently as possible.
1) Determine the Extent of the Injury
Chances are good the tooth came out due to a violent blow to the head, so fixing your smile might be the least of your worries. If your head is bleeding or think you might have a concussion, skip the dentist and see a doctor. If you’re sure you’re OK, call the dentist right away to confirm you can be seen immediately.
2) Prepare the Tooth
Be gentle with the tooth. Don’t even bother wiping it off; if you have to, you can rinse it off, but only with milk or saline solution, as the chlorine in water can can damage the root. Pick up the tooth by the crown instead of the root to avoid additional damage.
3) Transport the Tooth
If you’re lucky and/or prepared enough to have a tooth saver kit, such as Save-A-Tooth or EMT Toothsaver, the job of transporting the tooth is much easier and less time sensitive. Tooth saver kits are containers of fluid in which teeth can be stored for up to 24 hours without dying. The specially designed fluid keeps teeth alive, nourishing the tooth cells until re-implantation. If you don’t have one of these kits, consider calling local drugstores to see if they have any in stock, or ask if the dentist has some when you call for your emergency appointment.
If you don’t have a tooth saver kit handy, the best place to transport the tooth is where it came from: your mouth. If possible, place it back in the socket so it’s in line with the other teeth, and bite down gently to keep it in place, using gauze or a wet tea bag as a cushion and to absorb any blood. Otherwise, it can be tucked between the lower lip and gum or underneath the tongue. If the mouth isn’t an option, you can place the tooth in a container and cover it with milk, saline solution or even saliva. Wherever you carry the tooth, prepare a cold compress to use on your mouth and gums to ease the pain until you get to the dentist.
4) Re-Implant the Tooth
The process of re-implanting the tooth involves more than a one-time, quick in-and-out visit. It could take two weeks for the socket ligaments to grow around the root, and regular follow-ups with the dentist are important to make sure the root wasn’t damaged more than previously thought.
(Sources: SaveATooth.com, Yahoo, Medline Plus)