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Knocked-Out Tooth: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Apr 10, 2024

Accidents can happen unexpectedly, and one common injury many people experience is a knocked-out tooth. Whether it's due to a sports mishap, a fall, or any other sudden impact on the mouth, a knocked-out tooth requires immediate attention to maximize the chances of saving the tooth and preventing further complications. 

Keep on reading to know the causes, treatment options, and preventive measures related to knocked-out teeth.

What is a Knocked-Out Tooth? 

A knocked-out tooth, also known as an avulsed tooth, occurs when a tooth is entirely dislodged from its socket. It is a dental emergency and needs immediate treatment to improve the chances of saving the tooth.

To save your tooth, it is crucial to try reinserting it back into its socket as soon as possible. Teeth that are treated within 30 minutes to one hour of being knocked out have the highest chance of success in terms of reattachment.

If you are unable to see a healthcare provider immediately, it is important to keep the knocked-out tooth in a medium such as milk or saline solution until you can receive professional care. When you do visit a healthcare provider, they'll likely try to reattach the knocked-out tooth back into its place.

Who is at risk of having a knocked-out tooth? 

Every year, over 5 million people in the United States experience knocked-out teeth. The majority of dental injuries occur among children aged 7 to 11 years old. It's worth noting that dental injuries are twice as common in males compared to females.

What causes a knocked-out tooth? What causes a knocked-out tooth

Tooth avulsion requires a considerable amount of force. The primary causes of knocked-out teeth include:

  • Falls.
  • Bicycle accidents.
  • Sports injuries.
  • Traffic accidents.
  • Assaults.

Sports-related incidents can also result in tooth avulsion, with common sports contributing to such injuries being:

  • Football.
  • Hockey.
  • Lacrosse.
  • Martial arts.
  • Rugby.
  • Skating.

What are the symptoms of a knocked-out tooth?

When a tooth is knocked out, there are no remaining parts of it left in your mouth. 

Signs of a knocked-out tooth may include: 

  • A visible gap in your mouth where the tooth used to be.
  • Mouth pain or discomfort.

If your tooth falls out and causes bleeding, cover the socket with a clean handkerchief or small washcloth and gently bite down to help stop the bleeding. Do not use aspirin, as it can increase bleeding. If you experience pain, consult your healthcare provider about suitable pain relief medications. It's important to seek medical attention for any head trauma, especially if you feel dizzy or nauseous, as this can help identify any additional injuries.

Immediate Steps to Take 

When a tooth gets knocked out, quick action can significantly impact the outcome. Here are the immediate steps to take:

  • Handle the Tooth With Care: Pick up your tooth by the crown and don't touch the root to prevent damage to delicate tissues.
  • Clean Gently: If the tooth is dirty, rinse it gently with milk or saline solution. Avoid scrubbing or using soap or chemicals.
  • Reposition if Possible: If the person is conscious and there are no other serious injuries, try to reinsert the knocked-out tooth into its socket gently. Hold it in place by gently biting down on a clean cloth.
  • Preserve the Tooth: If reinsertion isn't possible, store the tooth in milk, saline solution, or a tooth preservation kit. Avoid storing it in water or dry conditions.

How do dentists treat a knocked-out tooth?

When you have a knocked-out tooth, your first step is typically to see a dentist for treatment. The treatment your dentist provides depends on whether you were able to reinsert the tooth or keep it moist before your appointment. Here's what your dentist will do in each case:

If you reinserted the tooth yourself: 

  • Your dentist will check if you positioned the tooth correctly.
  • They will splint your reinserted tooth to neighboring teeth for about seven to 10 days. If there's a fracture in the surrounding bone, the splint may stay in place for up to six weeks.
  • The dentist will examine the tooth's pulp and may schedule a root canal procedure within two weeks if needed (to remove the soft center of the tooth).

If you store the tooth in a moist environment: 

  • The dentist will gently rinse your tooth if necessary, usually with saline solution.
  • Local anesthesia (numbing medication) will be administered.
  • The tooth will be reinserted by the dentist.
  • A splint will be placed on the reinserted tooth.
  • A root canal may be scheduled as needed.

Your dentist might give you antibiotics for a few days and check if your tetanus shot is up to date, especially if your tooth got dirty. Even if you couldn't keep your tooth moist, your dentist might still try to put it back. However, to have the best chance of success, they usually need to do this within an hour of the tooth coming out. If the tooth dries out too much, it might not reattach properly, and you might need to consider options like partial dentures, bridges, or dental implants later on.

Preventive Measures 

While some accidents are unavoidable, taking preventive measures can reduce the risk of dental injuries:

  • Wear Protective Gear: Use mouthguards during sports activities, especially contact sports, to cushion blows to the face and mouth.
  • Safety in Play Areas: Supervise children during play to avoid falls and accidents that could lead to dental injuries.
  • Avoid Risky Behaviors: Discourage behaviors like biting on hard objects, using teeth to open packages, or engaging in physical altercations.
  • Regular Dental Check-ups: Routine dental visits help detect and address dental issues early, reducing the risk of complications from untreated conditions.


A knocked-out tooth is a distressing experience, but prompt action and professional dental care can often save the tooth and restore oral health. Knowing what causes it, what to do right away, and how to prevent it can help you deal with this kind of emergency well and take care of your teeth in the future. It's important to act fast and get the right dental care to have the best chance of fixing a knocked-out tooth.

Ready to protect your smile? Schedule an appointment with Afroz Burges, DDS in Pearland, TX, for expert dental care. New patients can book online or call us at 281-547-2632 (for new patients) or 713-340-2889 (for existing patients).


How long do I have to reinsert a knocked-out tooth for the best chance of saving it? 

Ideally, reinsert the tooth within an hour of it being knocked out for the highest chance of success.

Can a knocked-out tooth be saved if it is not stored in a moist environment? 

While moist storage improves chances, a dentist may still attempt reimplantation, especially if done promptly.

What do you do if the tooth is knocked out? 

If an adult tooth gets knocked out, attempt to reinsert it gently into its socket and see a dentist right away. Do not try to reinsert a baby tooth; instead, take your child to a dentist immediately. If you cannot reinsert an adult tooth, store it in milk and promptly contact your regular dental provider.



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