Yes. A tooth could be reimplanted if you act quickly.
Plants that are pulled up by the roots may survive if they’re put back into soil right away. The same is true of teeth. Teeth are alive and can often be saved as long as you act quickly.
The blood vessels and nerves in knocked-out teeth (also called “avulsed” teeth) are usually damaged beyond repair. But microscopic ligaments in the jaw may reattach to the root of the tooth once it’s put back into place.
The odds of saving a tooth are highest in young children, but adult teeth can be saved as well. Even if the tooth reattaches, however, you most likely will need root canal treatment to clean out the damaged nerve. We have seen several of these cases in our office, after root canal is done we can sometimes bleach the tooth from the inside and simply fill. No crown required.
To improve the chances of saving the tooth take these steps:
- Handle the tooth carefully. Avoid touching the root of the tooth (the part of the tooth that was embedded in the gum) because it can be damaged easily.
- If the tooth is dirty, hold it by the upper part (the crown) and rinse it off with milk until most of the dirt is washed away. If you don’t have any milk available, then it is best to leave the tooth alone. Wiping it off with a handkerchief or shirttail may cause additional damage.
- It is important to keep the tooth moist. If possible, drop it into a glass of milk. If no milk is available, then place the tooth in the mouth between the cheek and gum.
- A young child who has had a tooth knocked out may not be able to safely “store” the tooth in his or her mouth without swallowing it, so don’t give the tooth to a young child for safe-keeping in his or her mouth. Place the tooth in milk or have the child spit into a container and place the tooth in the cup with the saliva. The most important thing is to keep the tooth moist. Use a cup of water if nothing else is available.
- Get in to see Dr. Powell as quickly as possible. If getting into our office immediately after a tooth has been knocked out is impossible, then you may want to try slipping the tooth back into its socket. In many cases, it will slip right in. Make sure it’s facing the right way. Don’t try to force it into the socket. If it doesn’t go back into place easily and without pressure, then it’s better just to hold it between the cheek and gum or to keep it in milk, saliva or water.