Traumatic tooth loss due to dental trauma is very common both inside of sports and inside the home. For sports, prevention plays an important roll. Wearing a well fitting mouth guard can prevent the traumatic loss of a tooth altogether. Mouth guards for football are common, but mouth guards should be worn for soccer, basketball, rugby and virtually any sport where running and contact are involved. While prevention plays an important part in protecting you and your children’s teeth, what happens in the first 20 minutes after a tooth is knocked out will be the key difference in whether the tooth can be saved or eventually lost. If you witness the loss of a permanent tooth follow the simple steps below;

    1. Locate the lost tooth
    2. Grasp the tooth by the crown end avoiding the root end, with a cloth, tissue or anything that will allow you to grip the tooth firmly. ( teeth are slippery)
    3. If water is available, rinse the tooth gently to remove any debris. Do not touch or scrub the root surface.
    4. If water is not available and the tooth is dirty forget step #3 and move on to step #5. Your dentist can deal with any infection that may occur due to a dirty tooth.
    5. Place the tooth with moderate pressure back into the mouth. Hold the tooth in position and immediately go to a dentist or an emergency room for permanent stabilization with a bonded wire.

It is critical that the tooth be re-implanted in the mouth within the first 20 minutes. If the tooth is put back in the mouth within this period of time it’s chance of survival is excellent. If the tooth is not put back within 20 minutes, the chances of that tooth’s long term survival go down dramatically.

Placing a tooth back in a traumatized individual is not an easy thing to do, but when it comes to a lost tooth the sports quote “JUST DO IT” is all you need to remember! Dr. James Austin has been practicing dentistry for 31 years. His office can be reached at or 425 643-5778.

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