When we were kids, losing a tooth was new and exciting. We felt a sense of accomplishment, mommy and daddy were proud, and the Tooth Fairy left a couple of bucks under our pillow. What a great day!
But as an adult that's innocently playing field hockey or fighting someone who insulted our mother, the experience is a little different. If you or your child ever loses an adult tooth, here are some instructions to file away for this unique emergency - instructions that might surprise you.
Let’s say the cliché advice first: Stay. Calm. It’s important for a few reasons. When you’re bleeding and freaking out because there’s suddenly a new hole in your mouth, slow down the chaos. You’ll need your wits about you because these instructions require strategy and speed.
Find that tooth! Adult teeth (not baby teeth) can be reinserted so it’s worth the hunt. Here’s the tricky part: When you find the tooth pick it up by the crown. Do not touch the root. Touching the root will crush the cells, causing the tooth to suddenly graduate into a weird conversation piece for your office.
There are a few different ways to treat the tooth depending on your circumstances. If you’re an adult, rinse the tooth off with saline or milk. Do not use water or ice if you can help it, the chemicals in the water could ruin the tooth. If you must use water, do it just long enough to rinse off any dirt.
Then, wash your mouth out to prevent infection. If it’s not too painful, try and reinsert the tooth into its socket. Do your best to keep it in place as your drive to the dentist. The second best option is to place the tooth between your gums and cheek. The name of the game is to keep it moist and alive.
If you have a young child that might swallow the tooth, soak it in milk. If you don’t have milk, have your child spit in a container and soak the tooth in their saliva on the way to the dentist.
After this fiasco, you get to partake in what can only be described as an episode of I Love Lucy. On average, you have a 40-minute window to get to a dentist. They will then attempt to re-plant your tooth. The hope is that the ligament on the root hasn’t died and can reconnect with the living organisms in your socket. The human body is pretty impressive and if you do everything just right, you might have your natural tooth back with a big smile to match.
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