Essential steps for dealing with a lost tooth in the playground


Avulsed tooth

If you have children or work with children, it is a good idea to know what to do if this happens so that prompt action can be taken.

Knowing a few simple steps will give the best chance of the tooth being saved.

Tip : PRINT THIS OUT and keep it somewhere safe…in the First Aid box at school…in the bathroom cabinet at home…then you are prepared!

[These steps are for if an adult tooth is knocked out. Baby/milk teeth should not be replanted as this could damage he developing adult tooth.]

  • Don’t handle the root of the tooth…only the crown, which is the white part
  • Wash the tooth gently if it is dirty… in saline (salt water solution) if a First Aid kit is available…or if not, use milk. Do not use water or scrape/ brush the tooth
  • Replant the tooth back in the socket…within 30 minutes if possible. The sooner it is back in the socket, the better the chances are of the tooth surviving
  • Get the child to bite on a clean piece of material (e.g. a hankie) or a wet tea bag
  • See a dentist immediately for an emergency appointment
  • Even if the tooth has been out longer than 30 minutes, it is still worth replanting (unless more than 24 hours…in which case take the advice of your dentist)
  • If you cannot replant the tooth, it is best to keep it in the patients own mouth between the gum and the cheek: then get to a dentist for an emergency appointment immediately.
  • If the child is unable to store the tooth in his/her own mouth (if too young or too distressed), store it in a clean container and cover the tooth with the patient’s own saliva or with milk.

What will the dentist do at the emergency appointment?

  • The dentist will check that the tooth is back in the socket or will replant it if this hasn’t been done already.
  • The tooth will then be “splinted” i.e. held in place with either a piece of plastic or a small wire…this usually stays on for 7-10 days

In the medium- to long-term:

  • If the tooth has been replanted immediately there is a good chance that the tooth will survive in the medium term: long term survival however may still be poor
  • Common problems include the nerve of the tooth dying or the root of the tooth being “dissolved away”. Your dentist will know what to look for and provide any necessary treatment…so it is important to keep review appointments with your dentist
  • Even if the tooth survives only a few years, it is worth holding onto so that orthodontic or other dental treatment can be planned later on.

If all else fails:

  • If the tooth was not found or was not replanted within 24 hours, the best way forward may be to have a replacement false tooth placed and then for your dentist to plan for something more permanent when the child is older such as bridge or an implant.
  • A referral to an orthodontist may need to be made so that any brace treatment can be planned in preparation for this.

Prevention is better than cure

  • Mouth guards are advised for contact sport : these can be bought at sports shops or, even better, be made by your dentist so that they fit correctly around the teeth
  • Children whose teeth stick out are at a greater risk of injury to their teeth. Orthodontic treatment can be effective in correcting the position of the teeth so that they are in a safer position. Your dentist will advise you on whether an orthodontic referral is needed.

Further information

Custom orthodontic mouth guards – You can choose your own colours!

NHS Choices – How to manage avulsed teeth

About Cleveland Orthodontics

Our specialist-led practice has been established since 1996 and provides brace treatment to people of all ages from across the North East and Teesside, including Middlesbrough, Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees, Billingham and Redcar.

We offer NHS orthodontic treatment for children and a range of modern white and “invisible” braces for adults of all ages such as Invisalign. FREE consultations are available… you can either telephone for an appointment on 01642 243 020 or book through our website.

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan /