Each year, in the US, more than 5 million teeth are knocked out of their sockets, according to the AAE (American Association of Endodontists). Sport is one of the biggest causes of avulsed teeth, and often occurs because players don't wear the appropriate protection, for example, a mouth guard. However, many of these injuries occur in cities where dental practices are abundant. If you lose a tooth while camping or climbing a mountain, it is highly unlikely that you will have access to a dental practice.
It is possible to perform your own emergency dental treatment, however. Provided you find the tooth, you can re-implant it, but there are certain things you must do in order to ensure the survival of the tooth.
Pick the Tooth up by its Crown (Never Touch the Root)
When you pick the tooth up, never pick it up by the root, i.e. the part of the tooth that was formerly in your gum. Pick it up by the crown, which is the part you see when you smile.
The root of a tooth is covered in a fibrous material called the "periodontal ligament". The periodontal ligament is responsible for keeping a tooth attached to the bone that surrounds the root. If you handle this with your fingers, you may damage it, and the tooth will not reattach.
Rinse the Tooth with Milk or Water if Dirty
If the tooth is dirty, rinse it first to guard against infection. Use saline water or milk if you have them as these will not damage the periodontal ligament.
Re-implant the Tooth as Quickly as Possible
Next, holding the tooth by the crown, re-implant it into the socket. Though you will experience some pain and discomfort, it is important that you ensure the tooth is correctly in place. If the tooth is crooked at all, it may reattach in this position leaving you with a crooked tooth.
Hold the Tooth in Place with Wet Gauze or Wadded Tissue
You will then need to help the tooth reattach by biting down on some wet gauze or tissue paper for at least 5 minutes. This will allow the periodontal ligaments to reattach to the surrounding bone.
Soak the Tooth is Re-Implantation is Not Possible
If you cannot re-implant the tooth for any reason, soak it in saline solution or milk as quickly as possible to prevent it from drying out. You can even soak it in your own saliva. If no container is available, then place the tooth in your mouth and hold it between your cheek and your gum, taking care not to swallow it.
Although dentists will advise that you re-implant the tooth within 30 minutes, research shows that teeth can be re-implanted successfully even after 12 hours, though this is an extreme case. Act as quickly as possible to ensure successful re-implantation. Even if you are unsuccessful in your efforts to re-implant the tooth, and your dentist is unable to save it, there are several tooth replacement options available to you, such as a partial denture, or dental implants.
Even if your tooth cannot be saved, you can still walk out of the dentist's office with a replacement, albeit a temporary one.Share