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How to Deal with a Knocked-Out Tooth

A childhood visit from the tooth fairy is one thing, but having a permanent tooth knocked out is another, distinctly less enjoyable affair. Act fast and it could be a temporary one.


  • Step 1: Find tooth Find your tooth—or piece of tooth—as quickly as possible.
  • Step 2: Pick up by tip Pick it up by the tip only—not the roots.
  • Step 3: Apply gauze Apply sterile gauze to the socket where the tooth was knocked out to staunch the bleeding.
  • Step 4: Gently rinse tooth Gently rinse the tooth in a cup of water.
  • TIP: Move fast—a dentist has the best chance of reimplanting a tooth within 30 minutes—but very gently. Don’t try to wipe the tooth clean or hold it under running water.
  • Step 5: Place tooth in socket Place the tooth back into its socket.
  • TIP: Do this for adults only—children may swallow the tooth.
  • Step 6: Place gauze pad Place a gauze pad or a moistened tea bag over the tooth, between the bottom and upper teeth, and very gently close your mouth to hold it in place.
  • TIP: If you are unable to place the tooth back in the socket, submerge it in a cup of whole milk or your own saliva—not water—until you can get to the dentist. Transporting the tooth dry can cause permanent nerve damage to the tooth within a few minutes.
  • Step 7: Seek emergency care Seek emergency care immediately. If you cannot get to a dentist right away, go to a hospital emergency room—and don’t forget the tooth!
  • FACT: No one’s sure exactly how the tooth fairy myth started, but its modern version—a fairy that replaces a shed baby tooth under a pillow with money or candy—didn’t show up until the early 1900s.

You Will Need

  • Sterile gauze pads
  • Cup
  • Water
  • Moistened tea bag
  • Whole milk

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