Saving a Lost Tooth – Should We Try to Replace?


My daughter was recently hit in the face and lost a permanent tooth. Is there anything we could have done to save the tooth?

Dr. Greene`s Answer:

Sometimes when a permanent tooth has fallen out, it can be successfully replaced. However, there is a time frame that decides if this will be successful and part of it depends on how the tooth is taken care of. Once the tooth has dried out, it is unlikely to reattach.

Dentists used to recommend that kids hold a knocked-out tooth in their mouths, but now they don’t due to a choking / swallowing risk. The important thing is to keep the tooth moist but avoid washing or rubbing it. A glass of milk or saline works well for this. Do not use contact lens solution. Some pharmacies carry Hanks Balanced Salt solution, a solution specifically designed for dental emergencies. If nothing else is available, a tooth can be kept in a cup of a child’s own saliva. Try not to touch the root of the tooth (the part of the tooth that is normally inside the gums).

See your dentist as soon as possible, preferably within an hour.

Last medical review on: July 11, 2010
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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