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Home Health Library Tooth loss: First aid

Tooth loss: First aid

If your tooth gets knocked out, handle it by the top only. Take steps right away so your tooth can be saved and successfully replanted.


It's sometimes possible to successfully replant a permanent tooth that has been knocked out. It's critical to replant the tooth right away or as quickly as possible. If replanting the tooth doesn't happen quickly after the tooth is knocked out and properly handled, it's not likely to be a success. So it's vital to get emergency dental care. But you must follow the steps below right away — before you see a dentist.


  • Handle your tooth by the top, also called the crown, only — don't touch the roots.
  • Carefully look at the crown and root to see if any part of either appears to be missing or cracked. Let the dentist know. Damage to the tooth may make replanting it less likely to be successful.
  • Don't rub the tooth or scrape it to remove dirt, food or blood. Don't wrap the tooth in tissue or cloth. This damages the root surface, making the tooth less likely to survive.
  • If your tooth has dirt or other material on it, gently rinse your tooth briefly with cow's milk or your own saliva. Don't use tap water or hold the tooth under running water, because too much tap water could kill the cells on the root surface that help reattach the tooth.
  • Try to put your tooth back into the socket. If the tooth doesn't go all the way into the socket, bite down slowly and gently on gauze, a napkin or a damp paper towel to help keep the tooth in place. Hold the tooth in place until you see your dentist.
  • If you can't put your tooth back into the socket, place it right away in a container with cow's milk or your own saliva that you spit into the container. Or use a product you can buy without a prescription that preserves a knocked-out tooth, if you can get the product quickly. Look for a product approved by the American Dental Association.
  • Get emergency dental care. If your dentist's office isn't open, go to the emergency department at a hospital.

Baby teeth are not replanted if they're knocked out.

For permanent teeth, if you can see a sharp surface or shiny surface, there's a chance that part of the root is still in the socket. In this situation, the tooth can still be put into the socket. But replanting the knocked-out tooth is less likely to be successful.

Last Updated: June 7th, 2024