Help! My Adult Tooth Fell Out!

» Posted by on Nov 19, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Dear Dr. Merchant,

Last year during our holiday family gathering my uncle’s adult tooth was knocked out! It happened accidentally during our pre-dinner football game. No one knew what to do and unfortunately he wasn’t able to save the tooth. If something like this happens this year, what should we do?


Thinking Ahead                                                  


Dear Thinking,

I hope he was able to enjoy some of the feast at least! You are smart to plan ahead for this possibility as it is more common than you might think. Adult teeth can come out for a variety of reasons including direct damage to the mouth, tooth decay, and periodontal disease. An adult tooth can be replaced in certain circumstances with proper care, but the area will need to be professionally evaluated.  If a baby tooth is knocked out, then the tooth can just wait for the tooth fairy provided no other trauma to the mouth has been incurred. Better to be safe with a plan in case one of these situations occurs rather than letting it take over a fun family celebration. Following are some thoughts to consider should you run into this problem again (no pun intended!): 

Take Care!

If the adult tooth has come completely out, gently pick it up at the biting surface (known as the crown) and do not touch the exposed root area. The root area is the part that needs to reattach, and disturbing it severely lessens that possibility. If it’s clean, replace the tooth in the mouth cavity and gently hold in place with clean gauze, or hold in place between the lower lip and gum or under the tongue. If the tooth is dirty, then put it in a clean container and cover it with milk or saliva. This will keep the tooth safe and alive for a limited amount of time until you can see a professional. If the tooth has been knocked loose but not out, use clean gauze or a clean cloth to bite down gently on the affected tooth. This will help stabilize the area until it can be evaluated. A knocked-out tooth is a dental emergency, not a hospital emergency. Your dental provider should have a number to call if it’s after office hours. Medlineplus has an article that talks about this situation in more depth.

Replant or Replace ASAP

The best scenario is where the patient has gotten to a provider in time and the tooth is able to be replanted. Given the limited amount of time a tooth can be stored and saved, this option is not always possible. Still, it’s worth a try considering that replacement options can be a lot more involved. Replacement options should be discussed with a professional to determine what is in the patient’s best interest. A root canal, partial, crown or implant are all possibilities when it comes to replacing a wayward tooth.

You might be thinking,”Why can’t I just leave it alone? No one sees that part of my mouth anyway.” Leaving a traumatized space open can lead to a host of problems. When a tooth is suddenly gone, bacteria have a new place to thrive in the mouth and/or one’s bite doesn’t line up properly when chewing or at rest. As discussed in my last blog, the mouth is the gateway to other body systems. If bacteria and decay set in, they can enter the bloodstream and cause a litany of other health related issues. Knowing in advance what to do if a tooth is damaged or knocked out can help you be in control in the event of an emergency. Hope this helps you plan for a fun-filled holiday gathering!

Happy Oral Health!

Dr. Christopher D Merchant D.D.S.


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