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Dental Emergencies

How to save a knocked out tooth

A dental emergency can occur at any time. Knowing the proper steps to take can save a tooth and ensures that the proper treatment is received in the right amount of time. Fractured and avulsed teeth are the most common dental emergencies. Jaw injuries, orthodontic appliance malfunctions and tooth aches are also very common.

An avulsed tooth is a very serious injury that requires immediate attention. Acting fast with proper guidance can save the tooth and eliminate the need for a dental implant. If a tooth is knocked-out, carefully retrieve the tooth without touching the root portion. Only handle the tooth from the crown (part that is usually visible in the mouth) portion.

There are a few ways to preserve the tooth on the way to the dentist. The first is to place the tooth back into the socket. If the tooth roots are very dirty, gently rinse the tooth in a small amount of warm water or milk. Do not remove any tissue or ligaments that remain on the root surface. Gently place the tooth back into the socket. If the tooth cannot be placed back into the socket, hold the tooth between the cheek and gum.

The best way to preserve the tooth is for it to be stored in natural saliva in the mouth. If this is not possible a kit can be purchased from most pharmacies. The kit contains a liquid that is very similar to natural saliva. The tooth can be placed inside the solution and transported with the patient to the dentist. If the kit is not available, the tooth can be stored in milk.

The most important aspect is to get to the dentist as soon as possible. The tooth must be placed in the socket and stabilized within an hour of being removed. The dentist will flush the area and examine it to ensure that bone fragments and debris have been removed. He or she will then place the tooth in the socket and stabilize it using orthodontic wire and resin. The area will then be monitored to track the healing process.

It is sometime necessary to have root canal therapy after the tooth has been replaced. When the nerves and roots are damaged, they will rarely regenerate. Root canal therapy decreases the likelihood that the tooth will become infected by filling the root canals with a dental material called gutta percha.

Following these recommendations and receiving prompt dental attention can mean the difference between saving and losing a natural tooth. In the event that the tooth cannot be saved, a dental implant is the best way to replace the missing tooth.

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Dr. Bruno Silva
Founder and Principal Dentist, Brighton Implant Clinic.