Emergency Dentistry

Emergency Steps for Saving a Knocked-Out Tooth

More than 5 million teeth are knocked out every year. Both adults and children are at risk.

With proper emergency action, a tooth that has been entirely knocked out of its socket often can be successfully replanted and last for years. Because of this, it is important to be prepared and know what to do if this happens to you or someone with you. The key is to act quickly, yet calmly, and follow these simple steps:

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 the tooth in milk or saliva.

If dirty, gently rise the tooth in milk or saliva. Use water as a last resort only.  

  • 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
  • Milk
  • Mouth (next to cheek)

If none of these is practical, use water (with a pinch of salt, if possible).

5.  See the nearest available dentist 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.