There are very few things in life more unsettling than losing an adult tooth. One minute you’re biting down on dinner, the next you feel a “cruuuunch” inside your mouth along with the accompanying sensation that you just bit down on something very hard.
Whether it’s from tooth decay, bad genetics, or a physical injury, losing an adult tooth can leave you in a subconscious state of mind as you desperately try to cover up the gap by not smiling. If you’re fortunate, the lost tooth will have come from the back of your mouth – where it’s harder to see when you smile.
No matter how you lost your tooth, there’s a good chance that it’s salvageable. Here are the first few steps you should take if you want to attempt to salvage it:
Tooth Recovery Steps
After the initial shock wears off, do your best to recover the missing tooth. Sometimes the tooth will have a flesh-like substance at the bottom – this is the root of the tooth and should be protected at all costs from dirt and damage.
Pick the tooth up by the crown (the hard white surface) and make sure you take care when handling it. Human teeth are relatively small, and it won’t take much to accidentally drop it again and lose it for good.
Clean the Tooth
Once you have your lost tooth in your possession, clean it as best you can. Don’t scrub it too hard and try to be as gentle as possible. A glass of milk or your saliva will help preserve it. If a cup isn’t nearby, you can always store the tooth inside your cheek pocket.
Put the Tooth Back in Your Mouth (If You Can)
Protecting the tooth root should be your utmost concern if you wish to salvage the tooth. The best way to preserve it is to put the tooth back into the empty socket. This is often easier said than done, and sometimes the tooth refuses to go back in the cavity.
If the tooth doesn't go back in easily, don’t force it. Put the tooth in a glass of milk or saline solution and make a beeline to Water Tower Dental Care for an emergency appointment. If it’s after-hours, try to keep the tooth in a cool, moist area until our offices are open during regular business hours.
After-Hours Tooth Loss
If you lose your tooth on a Saturday night and the dentist office doesn’t open until 8 am Monday morning, you’re going to need to become the guardian and protector of your missing tooth for the next day. Keep it in a warm bag of milk, saliva, or saline solution – don’t use water as it could make the re-insertion more challenging.
If you’re in an area where you don’t have access to milk or saline solution, then you can always store the tooth inside your cheek pocket as a last resort. The goal is to keep the tooth (and roots) moist, so they don’t dry out.
For dental emergencies, give our offices a call any time of the day, night, weekends, or holidays at (312) 787-2131. At Water Tower Dental Care, we’re committed to the safety and well-being of our patients. We realize dental emergencies can happen anytime or anywhere and we’re here for you when you need us most.
Tooth Replacement Options
Once you’re in the dental chair at Water Tower Dental Care, the dentist will give you one of several options to replace the lost tooth. It’s impossible to know what option will work best for you until the dentist has had the opportunity to examine the area in your mouth where the tooth fell out. Here are several tooth replacement options that are available:
Replant the Original Tooth – If you’re fortunate enough, the dentist will be able to pop the tooth right back into your mouth. Sometimes a splint will need to be made out of composite material or soft wire. It will need to remain in place for a few days until the root has taken hold.
Once your tooth is back in your mouth, and the dentist removes the splint, you should make a follow-up dental appointment in three to six months so that the dentist can check up on the healing progress.
Bridge – If the dentist was not able to save the tooth, or if the tooth was too cracked/chipped to be put back in your mouth, you can opt for a dental bridge. The dentist will make a bridge by using nearby teeth as support for a fake (but very real looking) tooth. Bridge technology has advanced over the years to the point where they look, feel, and work just like the real thing.
Dentures – While dentures are not an ideal permanent solution, they can be an option for people who are on a budget or are wanting to save up to get dental implants.
Dental Implants – If the original tooth can’t be saved, then the next best option is to get a dental implant. Out of all the tooth replacement systems, dental implants cost the most money, but they are meant to be permanent. If you take care of your dental implants, they can last you a lifetime.
It can take upwards of six to eight months to get a dental implant, and in some cases, the dentist might recommend a temporary denture while your body heals up from the multi-step process of getting dental implants.
Lost Teeth Solutions in Chicago
If you’ve lost an adult tooth, follow the above steps to preserve it and give our offices a call at (312) 787-2131 or schedule an appointment. At Water Tower Dental Care, we specialize in helping patients who have lost a tooth and can provide many options to help you regain your smile and confidence!