A knocked-out adult tooth can usually be saved by putting it back in place or in milk as soon as possible, before seeing a dentist.
What to do if a tooth has been knocked out
If it's an adult (permanent) tooth:
- Hold it by the white bit that sticks out of the gum (the crown) – don't touch the root.
- Lick it clean if it's dirty, or quickly rinse it in cold running water for no more than 10 seconds.
- Try to put it back into the hole in the gum. If it doesn't go in easily:
- put it in milk
- put it in saliva – by spitting into a container (if it's your tooth) or having your child spit into a container (if it's theirs)
- hold it in your cheek until you see the dentist – but don't have younger children do this in case they swallow it
- If it goes back in, bite down gently on a clean cloth to hold the tooth in place.
If it's a baby tooth:
- don't put it back in – it could damage the tooth growing underneath
If you don't know if it's an adult or baby tooth:
- put it in milk or saliva (by having your child spit into a container) and bring it to the dentist
Get an emergency dentist appointment if:
- you or your child have knocked out an adult tooth – ideally within 1 hour – even if you can't find the tooth
How to see a dentist in an emergency or out of hours:
- call your dentist – if they're closed, their answerphone may say what to do
If you don't have a dentist or can't get an emergency appointment:
- call 111 – they can advise you what to do
- find a dentist near you – ask for an emergency appointment
You may have to pay for your appointment. Read more about NHS dental charges.
What the dentist will do
If you put the tooth back in, the dentist will check it's in the right place and move it if they need to.
If you brought the tooth in milk or saliva, they will clean it and put it back in.
They will then fix the tooth to the teeth either side of it to hold it in place (splinting). You will probably need to go back after a couple of weeks to have the splint removed.
If you can't find the tooth, or the dentist's not able to save it, it can normally be replaced with a false tooth.
Read more about false teeth and other dental treatments.
Page last reviewed: 09/04/2018
Next review due: 09/04/2021