Save your tooth

Knocking out a tooth is a medical emergency and time is crucial! 

If an adult tooth is knocked out, firstly, don’t panic! Try to retrieve the tooth, making sure to hold it by the crown only not the root. Do not scrub the tooth or use any soap to clean it. If it is visibly dirty, either lick it clean or use water to remove any visible debris. Then, try putting it back in place and go straight to a dentist! If you can’t put an adult tooth back into position, place it in milk and contact your dentist straight away.

Never try to re-insert a baby tooth – generally any child under 6 years old only have baby teeth. Take your child to see a dentist. If in doubt, put the tooth in milk and contact your dentist immediately.

So, to summarise, here’s what you need to do:

  • find the tooth
  • hold it by the crown (the white bit that sticks out of the gum)
  • lick the tooth clean if it’s dirty, or rinse it in water
  • put it back into position (adult teeth only); never try to re-insert a baby tooth
  • bite on a handkerchief to hold the tooth in place
  • go to see a dentist as an emergency

If you can’t put the tooth back in position, put it in milk and see a dentist straight away.

The sooner a knocked-out tooth is re-implanted, the more likely it is to embed itself back into the gum. Time is crucial, and ideally you would want to have the tooth re-implanted within the first 5 minutes. The longer the tooth is out, the poorer the prognosis of re-implantation!

We have made an easy to follow flowchart, which you can download and print here

At the dentist

If you’ve put your tooth back in yourself, the dentist will check that it’s in the correct position by having a look and taking an x-ray.  They’ll splint it to the teeth either side to hold it in position for two weeks. Splinting is a technique that temporarily attaches the tooth to keep it in place.

If you’ve put your tooth in milk and gone straight to the dentist, the dentist will numb the affected area and reposition the tooth. They’ll check that it’s in the correct position by taking an X-ray before splinting it to the teeth either side for two weeks.

A broken or chipped tooth


If the tooth is just chipped, you should make an appointment to see a dentist to fill the tooth or smooth it down. This isn’t an emergency and can wait until the dental surgery is open. You can try to find the fragment, store it in milk and see a dentist as soon as possible during working hours. The dentist may be able to glue the fragment back on to the tooth.

Don’t worry if you can’t find the fragment, your dentist will be able to use a tooth-coloured filling material to build your tooth up or restore the tooth with a crown.

If the tooth is badly broken and the nerves are exposed, it may be a little sensitive and will most likely need root canal treatment.This involves removing the nerve and placing a root filling. Your dentist will always inform you about the treatment options and outcomes.

Minna Miettinen