Summary

  • 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.
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.

Children can have both baby and adult teeth between around six and twelve years of age. If you are in any doubt, see your dentist or other oral health professional.

First aid for adult (permanent) teeth

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hold the tooth in place by gently biting on something soft, like a handkerchief.
  • See your dentist immediately.
If you can’t put a permanent tooth back:
  • Wrap it in plastic food wrap, or put it in milk or saline.
  • See your dentist immediately.

What not to do with the 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.

Don’t put a knocked out baby tooth back in the mouth

You should not put a baby tooth back in the gum, because it might:
  • fuse to the socket (hole). This causes problems when it is time for the baby tooth to fall out naturally
  • damage the permanent tooth sitting underneath in the gum.
Children’s baby teeth should not be put back in the mouth if knocked out. 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

  • Your maternal and child health nurse 
    • Community dental clinics:
    • The Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne:
      • General enquiries or to make an appointment Tel. (03) 9341 1000 or 1800 833 039 outside Melbourne metro 8.30 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday
      • Dental emergencies Tel. 1300 360 054 8.30 am to 9.15 pm, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 9.15 pm, weekends and public holidays
  • Your private dental clinic:
  • Orthodontist

Things to remember

  • A knocked out permanent tooth should be put back as soon as possible. Every minute counts.
  • See your oral health professional as soon as possible after a tooth injury.
  • Don’t put a knocked out baby tooth back in the mouth.
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: April 2015

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Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.