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Dental Trauma (Accidents)


Traumatic dental injuries often occur in accidents or sports-related injuries. Chipped teeth account for the majority of all dental injuries. Dislodged or knocked-out teeth are examples of less frequent, but more severe injuries. Treatment depends on the type, location and severity of each injury. Any dental injury, even if apparently mild, requires immediate examination by a dentist. Time is of the essence.  Sometimes, neighbouring teeth suffer an additional, unnoticed injury that will only be detected by a thorough dental exam. 

Handle the knocked-out tooth very gently, avoiding touching the root surface and follow these steps to protect the tooth.  

1. Pick up tooth by the crown (the chewing surface) not the root.  

Locate the tooth immediately; do not leave it at the site of the accident. The tooth should be handled carefully. Touch only the crown to minimize injury to the root.

2. If dirty, gently rinse tooth with water.

  • Do not use soap or chemicals.
  • Do not scrub the tooth.
  • Do not dry the tooth.
  • Do not wrap it in a tissue or cloth. 

3. Reposition tooth in socket immediately, if possible.  

The sooner the tooth is replaced, the greater the likelihood it will survive. To reinsert, carefully push the tooth into the socket with fingers, or position above the socket and close mouth slowly. Hold the tooth in place with fingers or by gently biting down on it.

4. Keep tooth moist at all times.  

The tooth must not be left outside the mouth to dry. If it cannot be replaced in the socket, put it in one of the following: 

  • Emergency tooth preservation kit (such as Save-a-Tooth®)
  • Milk
  • Mouth (next to cheek) 

Regular tap water is not recommended for long-term storage because the root surface cells do not tolerate water for long periods of time.

5. See a dentist ideally within 30 minutes.  

Bring the tooth to a dentist as soon as possible — ideally, within 30 minutes. However, it is possible to save the tooth even if it has been outside the mouth for an hour or more.

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