Dental Avulsion – What to Do When Your Tooth Gets Knocked Out

Dental Avulsion; Knocked-Out Tooth: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

What to do if my tooth is knocked out and how to prevent it

Dental avulsion, also known as a knocked-out tooth, is a dental emergency that requires immediate attention. This article provides an overview of the dental avulsion, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options. It also offers tips for preventing dental avulsion and living with the condition.

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Dental avulsion, commonly known as a knocked-out tooth, occurs when a tooth is completely displaced from its socket. This dental emergency requires immediate attention, as the chances of saving the tooth decrease with time. If you or someone you know experiences dental avulsion, seeking dental care as soon as possible is important.

Signs, Symptoms, and Causes:

Common causes of knocked-out Teeth

Dental avulsion can occur due to a variety of reasons, including:


  • Trauma to the mouth or face

  • Sports injuries

  • Car accidents

  • Falls

  • Physical altercations

What are the symptoms or signs?

The most obvious symptom of dental avulsion is the complete displacement of the tooth from its socket. Other signs and symptoms may include:


  • Bleeding from the socket

  • Pain or sensitivity in the affected area

  • Swelling of the gums or face

  • Difficulty speaking or eating

What are the risk factors?

Certain risk factors may increase the likelihood of experiencing dental avulsion, including:


  • Participation in contact sports without a mouthguard

  • Poor dental hygiene

  • Previous history of dental trauma

  • Age (children and young adults are more susceptible to dental avulsion)

Diagnosis and Tests:

How is a knocked-out tooth diagnosed?

Diagnosis of dental avulsion is typically based on a physical examination of the affected area and X-rays to determine if other teeth or bones have been affected.

Management and Treatment

How is a knock-out tooth managed or treated?

Take the following steps immediately to save the tooth:


  • Pick up the tooth by the crown (the top part of the tooth) and avoid touching the root.

  • Rinse the tooth gently with saline or milk, but do not scrub or clean it with soap or water.

  • Try to place the tooth back into its socket and hold it in place with gentle pressure. If this is not possible, place the tooth in a container of milk or saliva.

  • Seek emergency dental care as soon as possible. Time is of the essence when it comes to saving a knocked-out tooth.


If the tooth cannot be saved, your dentist will discuss options for tooth replacement, such as a dental implant, bridge, or denture.


How can I prevent knocking out my teeth?

Preventing dental avulsion requires taking precautions to minimize the risk of dental trauma. This includes:


  • Wearing a mouthguard during contact sports or activities

  • Avoiding physical altercations

  • Practicing good dental hygiene to maintain healthy teeth and gums

Outlook and Prognosis

What are the potential complications?

Dental avulsion or a knocked-out tooth can have some complications if left untreated. These may include:


  • Infection: If the tooth is not properly cleaned or replanted, an infection can develop, leading to more serious dental issues.

  • Bone and tissue loss: When a tooth is lost, the surrounding bone and tissue can also be damaged or lost, making it difficult to replace the tooth later.

  • Cosmetic concerns: Missing teeth can affect a person’s appearance and self-esteem.

What is the outlook?

The outlook for people with dental avulsion depends on several factors, including:


  • the person’s age, 

  • the tooth’s condition, 

  • and how quickly the tooth is treated. 

  • If a person seeks prompt medical attention, the chances of successful reimplantation are higher.

Living With

When should I call a doctor?

It is essential to seek immediate medical attention if a tooth has been knocked out. According to the American Dental Association, the best chance for saving a knocked-out tooth is to see a dentist within 30 minutes of the injury. If you cannot get to a dentist immediately, go to the emergency room.

What questions should I ask?

If you have experienced dental avulsion, you may have several questions for your dentist or healthcare provider. Some questions you can ask include:


  • What are my treatment options?

  • What can I do to prevent infection?

  • How will the loss of a tooth affect my long-term dental health?

  • Can the tooth be reimplanted?

  • What are the potential complications of a knocked-out tooth?


Remember, proper dental care and regular dental checkups can help prevent dental avulsion and other dental issues. In case of a dental emergency, seek immediate medical attention.

References and Resources:

American Association of Endodontists. Dental Avulsion. (2021).

American Dental Association. (2021). What to do if a tooth is knocked out.

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. (2020). Guideline on management of acute dental trauma.

American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. (2021). Dental avulsion.

Cleveland Clinic. (2021). Knocked-out tooth.

Colgate. (2021). Knocked out tooth: What to do.

Mayo Clinic. (2021). Tooth avulsion.

National Institutes of Health. (2021). Dental avulsion.

University of California San Francisco. (2021). Dental emergencies: Knocked-out tooth.

WebMD. (2021). Tooth avulsion emergency.


Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Ebad Habeeb