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Emergency Dentistry

Can You Save Your Knocked-Out Missing Teeth In Houston, TX?

If you’ve knocked out a tooth, your speedy response can mean all the difference in saving your smile.

By Jennifer -
Photography by Pete

blog image

Sports injuries, falls, and dental accidents—all of these can knock out a tooth if you’re unlucky. As worrying and scary as it may be to lose your tooth this way, you haven’t lost your chance to save it for good. There is still a small window in which an emergency dentist can salvage it.

Can A Knocked-Out Tooth Be Saved?

When making your way to visit your emergency, you need to be careful with how you treat your missing tooth. If you want the best chance of preserving your smile, you must do the following:

See your dentist as soon as possible. If you can make it to our dental practice within 5 minutes, you have an excellent chance of saving your tooth. This likelihood goes down between 5 and 60 minutes, but there’s still a high chance of success as long as the tooth is handled correctly.

Pick up the tooth by the crown only. Don’t touch the tooth’s roots at all. If you need to clean the tooth, do not rub any dirt off but instead put the tooth under running water for no more than 10 seconds. If there are any tissue fragments still stuck to the tooth, don’t try to remove them.

Place the knocked-out tooth in its original socket. This gives you the best chance of preventing permanent tooth loss. Once it’s back where it had been, place a clean cloth or handkerchief over the tooth and gently bite down to hold it in place. Do not try forcing the tooth if it won’t fit easily.

Keep the tooth moist at all times. If you can’t place it in the socket, either put it between your cheek and gums or keep it submerged in a small glass of milk until you can make it to our office. Do not use water or any other liquids to preserve the tooth as they are not good for your tooth’s roots.

With baby teeth, do NOT try putting them back in their old positions. Primary teeth are usually not reimplanted since they have a natural replacement that will come in eventually. Trying to put the tooth back in its socket can potentially damage the adult tooth waiting submerged below the gums. You should still find the knocked-out tooth to be sure your little one can’t accidentally swallow any fragments or pieces.

You should also give our office a call while you’re on your way. We don’t want to dawdle in seeing you right away, so a quick heads up gives us the time to ensure we have a patient suite ready for your immediate treatment.

How An Emergency Dentist Saves Your Tooth

When you come in for emergency dental care, your dentist will first check whether you’ve placed your missing tooth back in the socket. If the knocked-out tooth isn’t a clean break, your dentist may need to clean the site and remove any tooth or bone fragments left in the socket. Once we’ve placed the tooth back in the socket and ensured it’s in the correct position, our dentists will splint the tooth, usually with either wire or composite. This will hold it in place until the tooth is healed and once again secured in the jaw.

How long does it take for a knocked-out tooth to heal? This recovery period varies from person to person, depending on their tooth and jaw’s condition. If the jawbone is uninjured and the only thing that must heal is the tooth, patients can often have their smiles right as rain in three or four weeks. Most extensive damage will take more time, and many of these more complex cases require about six to eight weeks to heal.

What To Do About A Broken Tooth

An impact to the face doesn’t always knock out a whole tooth. Sometimes it only causes cracks, chips, or breaks. However, even if they only fracture or chip, broken teeth can still be a significant problem needing immediate dental care. You should see your dentist as soon as possible if there is excessive bleeding, tooth pain, sudden tooth numbness, or loose teeth. What should you do when your broken tooth is an emergency?

  • If there is bleeding, rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the wound. You may also need to gently press a clean gauze pad over it to stem the blood flow as best you can.
  • With tooth pieces that have broken off, place them in wet gauze and take them with you to the dentist.
  • If possible, place dental wax over any sharp edges to prevent cutting your tongue or the rest of your mouth.
  • Do not prod, poke, or pull at any loose teeth.

Sometimes, a cracked and chipped tooth is cosmetic and doesn’t extend farther than the enamel surface. Unless there is excessive bleeding or sharp edges that can cut your gums and tongue, you don’t need to see an emergency dentist. In most of these cases, some quick composite bonding or veneers can repair the damage quickly. However, with more serious dental emergencies, you will most likely need a dental filling, crown, or root canal treatment to restore your tooth to its old self.

When can a broken tooth not be saved? While it’s always a dentist’s top priority to preserve our patients’ natural smiles, it’s not always possible. If a fracture or break extends below the gum line, your dentist might not be able to preserve the tooth. In these extreme cases, we will need to have it extracted. Once removed, you will need to find an appropriate replacement.

Tooth Replacement Options

Is it OK not to replace a missing tooth? Unless it’s a baby tooth, you should always replace a knocked-out or extracted tooth. Your jaw and the rest of your smile directly rely on your tooth to keep them healthy and intact. With tooth loss, the jaw bone no longer has the stimulation provided by the tooth’s roots, and it starts to shrink. It’s estimated that a quarter to half of the original jaw bone can disappear within the first year.

Without a false tooth to fill in the space left behind, this can create lasting issues affecting your appearance, quality of life, and dental health. When left unchecked and unfilled, this deepening socket pulls neighboring teeth into its orbit as they gradually lose their anchoring and shift out of their correct positions. As teeth move out of place, this leads to:

  • New gaps between teeth
  • Change in your bite’s shape and fit
  • Difficulty or pain when eating
  • Development of a lisp and other speech problems
  • Facial sagging
  • Lips becoming wrinkly and sinking into themselves
  • Teeth becoming loose and falling out

Not all replacement teeth can stop this bone loss. However, they are necessary to keep the teeth surrounding the empty gap where they are. At Nu Dentistry, our dentists restore patients’ missing teeth with dental implants, bridges, and partial dentures.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are widely considered the best teeth replacement option. They are the only ones that recreate your whole tooth, including the root. Dental implants are composed of three parts: an implant, an abutment, and a dental crown. The implant is a titanium screw surgically inserted in the jaw, acting as the false tooth’s anchor and artificial root. As it fuses with the natural bone, it stimulates the jaw and prevents bone loss. The crown is the “visible tooth” part of the implant, restoring your original tooth’s look, feel, and function. The abutment connects the titanium implant and crown. Altogether, implants are the only way to keep your jaw at its healthiest and most intact.

Dental Bridge

A dental bridge is an affordable, long-lasting way to restore between one and four missing teeth in a row. This prosthetic works by securing the dental crowns connected on either end of your false tooth to the remaining teeth bookending your tooth gap. Your new teeth can then rest in the space between to complete your smile. If you’ve knocked out a front tooth, your dentist may instead recommend other alternative options, like cantilever and Maryland bridges. Cantilever bridges use a single crown to hold them in place rather than two. Maryland bridges forego dental crowns entirely to connect themselves to neighboring teeth using small metal and porcelain wings extending from the false tooth.

Partial Denture

Partial dentures allow a dentist to replace any amount of teeth less than an entire arch as long as there are still enough remaining teeth to support it. For some people, this may be as few as one or two teeth. This prosthesis fits your fake tooth or teeth in place by resting its base against the back of the neighboring teeth. It can also be better secured with wire clasps that gook onto those support teeth.

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