Getting a tooth knocked out is not fun—but it’s also not uncommon. More than five million teeth are knocked out every year, thanks to injuries or accidents. But here’s the good news: getting a tooth knocked out doesn’t necessarily means it’s lost for good. If you act quickly, and take the proper precautions, teeth can often be replanted successfully!

If an accident or injury occurs and a tooth gets knocked out, you’ll need to act quickly and get to the nearest dentist immediately. First, you’ll need to locate and pick up the tooth by the crown, or the chewing surface, and never by the root. If it’s covered with dirt, grass, or grit, gently rinse it with water. Do not use toothpaste, soap, or any other chemicals to clean it. Don’t scrub it or attempt to dry it. Simply rinse it with water.

Many people are tempted to then wrap the tooth in a cloth or tissue—don’t do that! You don’t want a dry tooth. The best thing to do is to try to put the tooth back into the socket it came from. Gently insert it with your finger and close your mouth. You can keep the tooth in place with a finger or by biting down (very gently) onto the tooth.

If you cannot reposition the tooth in its original socket, you need to keep the tooth moist. You can either put it in milk or tuck it into your cheek and hold it in place there. If the injury has occurred on a sporting field, there may an emergency tooth-preservation kit available. Do not soak the tooth in tap water.

Bring the tooth to an emergency appointment with a dentist, ideally within 30 minutes of the accident. In most cases, they can help you replant the tooth if proper precautions have been taken. Of course, the best treatment is the prevent the injury in the first place. Wear a properly-fitted mouthguard during contact sports like lacrosse and football to help protect your teeth and minimize the risk of injury.

To learn more, visit https://kyedentistry.com/.

Dr. Keith A. Kye cares for patients in Huntersville, NC.