A tooth that has been partly or completely knocked out of its socket as a result of a powerful impact to the jaw
Although teeth are commonly lost in childhood accidents, an avulsed tooth is really a problem only if a secondary (adult) tooth is lost because primary (baby) teeth are eventually replaced by secondary teeth. Avulsed teeth are much more common in men because they play more contact sports. The front teeth are most often involved. If you play contact sports, you can ask your dentist to make a plastic mouthguard to fit over your teeth and protect them.
If you have a tooth that is dislodged or knocked out, you should consult a dentist or visit an accident and emergency department immediately. If your tooth has been completely knocked out, you should avoid handling the root. If the tooth is very dirty, rinse it with milk or contact lens solution. Do not clean it with water or disinfectant, and do not let it dry out. The tooth should be pushed back firmly into the socket, and then you should bite on a clean handkerchief and see a dentist as soon as possible. If you cannot replace the tooth in its socket, you should ideally keep the tooth in your mouth (as long as there is no risk of swallowing it), where the saliva will protect it. Alternatively, put the tooth in a glass of milk or contact lens solution. In 9 out of 10 cases, a tooth will reattach itself to the jaw if it is replaced in the socket within 30 minutes of being knocked out.
The dentist will replace the tooth and splint it to other teeth to immobilize it for 10–14 days. Complete avulsion usually kills the pulp (containing nerves and blood vessels), in which case you may need root canal treatment when the tooth has been replaced.
If you have lost a tooth and may have inhaled it, a chest X-ray may be taken to ensure that the tooth is not lodged in your airways or lungs. A lost or damaged tooth may have to be replaced with an artificial tooth (see Crowns and replacement teeth).
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.