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What to Do When You Lose a Tooth

Losing an adult tooth can be an alarming event. The tooth won’t grow back, so how will you ever get your smile back? The bad news is that losing an adult tooth can be painful, and may require dental implants or other solutions. The good news is that there is hope: You can and will get your smile back with the help of a skilled oral surgeon.

If you do happen to lose an adult tooth, do not panic. Instead, take the time to follow a few steps to preserve the tooth and take care of yourself. Then take yourself to the dentist, where you can get the care and options you need to restore your smile to its beautiful original look.

Stop the bleeding.

Chances are that the loss of your tooth will lead to some bleeding, especially if you lose your tooth due to trauma. Your first step should be to stop this bleeding. You can do so by placing clean cotton balls in the gap left by your lost tooth. Gently apply pressure to the cotton balls with your finger or by closing your mouth. Replace the cotton balls as needed.

Preserve the tooth.

After your tooth falls out, you have about an hour to get it to a dental professional for reimplantation. If you can get the tooth placed back in your mouth within this time frame, you may be able to keep the tooth.

To that end, you should take immediate steps to find and preserve the tooth. Keeping the tooth healthy enough for reimplantation requires some careful handling. Here are some tips:

  • Do not touch the root.

Doing so could damage the sensitive tissue of the root and lead to tissue loss. That tissue loss can make it harder to successfully reimplant the tooth. Instead, handle the tooth only by the crown.

  • Rinse the tooth off.

Your tooth may be dirty from where it fell out of your mouth. After you pick it up, rinse it with water, milk, or saline to remove this dirt. Cleaning your tooth will remove particles that could damage the tooth or introduce bacteria when you place the tooth in your mouth.

  • Avoid scrubbing the tooth.

While you want to clean your tooth once it falls out, you do not want to scrub it in any way. Doing so can damage the tooth, particularly if you end up touching the root. Instead, simply allow the water, milk, or saline to run over the tooth.

  • Place the tooth in your mouth or in an appropriate solution.

The best way to preserve your tooth for potential reimplantation is to put it back in the socket where it came from. If you can manage to put it back, cover it with cotton balls or a clean washcloth until you get to the dentist.

It may not always be possible to put the tooth back into the socket. In this case, you can place the tooth between your cheek and gum. Doing so exposes the tooth to your saliva, which can help to preserve it.

You can also place the tooth in milk or saline (not plain water). This method will also help to preserve the tooth and increase your chances of successful reimplantation.

Avoid eating and drinking.

Until you have seen a dental surgeon, you should avoid eating or drinking after you lose an adult tooth. Eating and drinking can introduce particles and bacteria into the open socket, which could lead to infection. Plus, if you require any sedation for a dental procedure to repair your lost tooth, your oral surgeon may want you to have an empty stomach.

See a dental professional.

As mentioned above, you have about an hour to get your tooth reimplanted if you want a chance at keeping it. That means that you must treat the loss of your tooth as a dental emergency. If possible, see your dentist or an oral surgeon immediately. If you cannot reach them, then go to the emergency room.

The urgency of seeing a medical professional as soon as possible remains even if you successfully place the tooth back in its socket. The dentist or oral surgeon will need to make sure the tooth will survive in your mouth and that you avoid infection and other complications.

Even if you feel like you don’t have a chance at keeping the tooth that fell out, you should see a dental surgeon as soon as possible. They can alleviate your pain, prescribe antibiotics to help you avoid infection, and most importantly, provide you with options for restoring your smile.

Understand potential complications from tooth loss.

Tooth loss is a serious event that opens you up to a number of potential complications. Even losing just one tooth can impact your oral health. Here are just a few of the problems that might arise from tooth loss:

  • Change in your facial appearance

Losing a tooth can leave you self-conscious about your new, gap-toothed facial features.

  • Loss of jaw bone

Even losing one tooth can lead to the loss of 25 percent of a person’s jaw bone within the first year. This loss can significantly alter a person’s facial appearance. It can also make it much more difficult to implement tooth replacement solutions. The sooner the lost tooth is dealt with, the less jaw bone loss you will experience.

  • Infection

The open socket where the tooth used to be is susceptible to bacteria, which makes it more likely that you will suffer an infection. 

Prepare for tooth replacement options.

It is normal to feel worried when you lose an adult tooth. The reality, however, is that there are many good tooth replacement options. It is possible that a dental professional will be able to reimplant your tooth. If not, your oral surgeon can help to restore your smile with options like dental implants.

Implants are titanium posts that the oral surgeon places in the socket where your tooth used to be. The post fuses with your jaw bone, and gum tissue grows around and on it, so that it remains secure. Artificial teeth can then be placed on this post for a a sturdy, long-lasting, and realistic-looking tooth replacement solution.

If you lose an adult tooth, do not panic. Take care of your mouth and take care of your tooth and come see the dental professionals at Heart of Texas Oral Surgery. We can provide you with tooth replacement solutions and support to restore your smile and your confidence after tooth loss.