Summary

  • If knocked out, a permanent tooth should be replaced in the socket as soon as possible.
  • Every minute counts when you’re trying to save a permanent tooth.
  • Always seek immediate advice from your dentist or oral health professional.
  • Deciduous (milk or baby) teeth should not be put back in their socket.
  • Wear a mouthguard to prevent dental injuries during sport.

If an adult (permanent) tooth is knocked out, there is an excellent chance it will survive if it is put back into the gum straight away, and you seek help immediately from a dentist. Every minute the tooth is out of the gum, the less chance it has of surviving.

Baby teeth should not be put back in the mouth if knocked out. This can damage the developing permanent tooth underneath the gum.

Knocked-out adult (permanent) teeth

If an adult or permanent tooth is knocked out:

  • Handle the tooth by the crown (smooth white part), not the root (yellowish pointy parts).
  • If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse it in milk or saline for a few seconds – not in water.
  • Gently put the tooth back into the gum. Make sure the pointy root is the part that goes into the gum. Only do this if the person is conscious. 
  • Get the person to hold the tooth in place by gently biting on something soft, like a handkerchief.
  • Make sure the person sees a dentist immediately. 

If you can’t put a permanent tooth back: 

  • Wrap it in plastic food wrap, or put it in milk or saline.
  • Make sure the person sees a dentist immediately.

What NOT to do with a knocked-out adult tooth

  • Don’t clean the tooth by scrubbing or using cleaning products or water.
  • Don’t handle the tooth by the root.
  • Don’t let the tooth dry out.

Knocked-out baby teeth 

Do not put a knocked-out baby tooth back in the gum, because it might: 

  • fuse to the bone – this causes problems when it is time for the baby tooth to fall out naturally, and can affect the growth of the adult tooth
  • damage the permanent tooth sitting underneath in the gum.

If your child has a baby tooth knocked out, see your dentist to make sure there is no other damage to the teeth or mouth. 

Where to get help

References

More information

Mouth and teeth

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This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Dental Health Services Victoria

Last updated: February 2018

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