As an adult, unexpectedly losing a tooth is an undeniably upsetting experience, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to replace it with an artificial one.
When it comes to teeth, the human body has an amazing capacity to heal. So if the tooth is knocked out cleanly, you may be able to put it right back into its socket. Before you do, though, make sure to call a dentist. He or she will most likely advise you to handle the avulsed (knocked-out) tooth from the chewing surface and not the sensitive root. Rinse it with water (but don’t pat dry) and then gently re-insert.
A tooth may be saved if it’s replanted within the hour -- and the sooner, the better. If it re-attaches to the bone successfully, it may be as good as new within three or four weeks, the American Association of Endodontists says.
Rescuing those pearly whites:
- Don’t try to force the tooth back into the socket. This will only make things more irritated. If you take the tooth to a dentist, make sure it remains moist by keeping it in milk, or holding it in your mouth next to your cheek.
- Don’t use water to keep the tooth moist. Regular tap water can damage root surface cells. It’s advised that you see a dentist or endodontist within 30 minutes of the injury.
- The dentist will use a splint made from soft wire or some composite material to hold the tooth in place for several days. If the damage is severe, it can take six to eight weeks for the tooth to re-bond with the jaw bone.