You don’t have to be a hockey player to lose a tooth while playing sports. Collisions with baseballs, elbows and the ground can knock out a tooth. The best defense, of course, is wearing a mouth guard.
But if one of your teeth is knocked out, there’s a good chance it can be re-implanted if you take quick action and get to a dentist within 60 minutes.
Most dentists have emergency numbers on their recordings if you call outside business hours.
If your tooth does end up on the ground, the first step is: Find the tooth! This might be harder than it sounds, especially if you are a little dazed by what just happened, but have others help you.
If you can, gently place the tooth back in its socket and hold it there until you get to the dentist. Try to place the tooth back in the mouth where it fell out, so it is level with other teeth. This is a little easier with front teeth. Bite down gently on gauze or a wet tea bag to help keep it in place. Be careful not to swallow the tooth.
If this is not possible:
- Hold the tooth by the crown – not the roots
- DO NOT rinse the tooth with water (or anything else) because biological agents on the surface of the roots may help them reattach in the mouth
- Do keep it moist. Your saliva is actually the best wetting agent, so either hold it in your mouth or spit into a container and put the tooth in it
- If milk happens to be available, it is a good solution for keeping a tooth moist
Anyone can take quick action can action to help save a knocked-out tooth. My first experience with dental emergencies, in fact, came when I was about 10. A neighbor girl crashed her bicycle in front of our house. She hit the ground hard, and when she got up, one of her front teeth was missing. We searched the ground and found it, and she was whisked away to the dentist.
Truth be told, I’d rather make a mouth guard for you than re-implant your tooth. So be careful on your bikes, and when playing sports, remember: keep your eye on the ball!