Tooth trauma is something that dentists deal with every day, but for our patients, it’s a situation straight out of a nightmare. Having a tooth dislodged—or, worse, completely knocked out of your mouth—can understandably incite extreme fear and panic. Many patients don’t know how to handle the situation and end up making key mistakes that end up costing them their tooth.
That’s why, throughout all my years treating tooth trauma and attempting to save avulsed teeth, I have realized that it is our responsibility as dentists to shout from the hilltops the very important steps of what to do when you knock out a tooth!
Educate Your Communities
I’ve made it my mission to spread this vital information on what to do about tooth trauma to every parent, school nurse, and emergency room. I created a handy infographic that walks a patient clearly through the correct steps to take when their tooth is dislodged or knocked out. My hope is that with easily accessible information, patients will be less likely to panic and more likely to act quickly to save their tooth.
I use this infographic in my own practice, and I share it in my community whenever possible. But I can’t complete my mission of tooth trauma education alone. I could really use your help in getting the message out there!
Please download and use my infographic, too! I suggest handing it out during consultations, posting it on your social media channels, and keeping a few copies accessible in your office to review face-to-face with patients. If you have kids, drop some copies off at their school nurse’s office—tooth trauma isn’t uncommon at recess!
You have my full permission to add your branding to the infographic and give it to your patients—sharing is caring!
Please help me with my mission to spread the word. As dental professionals, we all have the power to save teeth!
Now, let’s take a moment and review the steps for patients to follow in case of tooth trauma. If you’re a patient, I hope you remember these steps in case you’re ever in a situation where a tooth goes unexpectedly missing!
Tooth Trauma Steps for Patients
If your tooth gets knocked out, don’t panic—usually, there’s still plenty of time to save it if you act quickly. Follow the steps below for the best chances of preserving your smile!
Step 1: Find that tooth! Chances are that you noticed your tooth falling out right away, so take the time to do a thorough search of the area. Enlist other people in your search if you need help!
Step 2: Pick up the tooth. When you find the tooth, pick it up ONLY by the CROWN. (That’s the part of the tooth that you see in the mirror when you smile!) Do NOT touch the root of the tooth, as it can be easily damaged.
Step 3: Clean the tooth. If the root of the tooth looks dirty, rinse it off using Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution. It’s proven to be the best, hands down! If you don’t have any, alternatives are saline solutions or milk (low-fat milk is best, but any milk will do). Do NOT use water, as this can damage the tooth.
Step 4: Replace the tooth. Try to put your tooth back in its socket. If you’re able to get it back in, hold the tooth in place with gauze or a clean washcloth until you can see your dentist.
Step 5: Keep the tooth moist. It’s extremely important to do this! If you are having a hard time getting the tooth to stay in its socket, you can keep it soaking in Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution, sterile saline solution, or milk (see step 3).
Step 6: Act quickly. Remember that TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE! The chances of saving your tooth are much greater if you can get the tooth back in the socket within ONE hour of it being avulsed.
Step 7: Call your dentist right away. Don’t go to the emergency room—instead, get to a dentist as soon as possible. And don’t forget to bring your tooth! The treatment you receive will depend on how long your tooth has been out of its socket and how it was stored. It’s possible that your dentist might begin root canal therapy immediately.
I hope that this information is helpful whether you’re a fellow endodontist, other dental professional, or dental patient. Feel free to download, use, and share my infographic however you see fit. Let me know in the comments below how you’re using the guide!
P.S. I’ve written an in-depth book for patients that includes this information and lots more to help them become more invested and empowered in their dental health. Please feel free to share it with your patients: https://soniachopradds.com/tooth-wisdom/
Let’s go save some teeth!