Saving A Broken Tooth

Woman suffering from a toothache.iStochphoto/thinkstock

If your tooth has been accidentally knocked out, speedy action is the key to saving it. A tooth replaced with thirty minutes has a good chance of survival. But after a two-hour wait, the success rate drops dramatically; and by the next day, its definitely too late.

Dentists advise gently rinsing the tooth immediately in tap water. Do not scrub the tooth at all. Ideally its best to place the tooth back in the socket, holding it there with the tongue. If thats too painful, wrap the tooth carefully in a wet piece of gauze and hold it under your tongue. Then get to the dentist immediately.

The dentist will in most cases stabilize the tooth in position by attaching the damaged tooth to the adjacent one with a wire band or by bonding. It is important for the tooth to be in a place securely for a few weeks long enough for the fibers on the surface of the root to reattach themselves to the socket.

By the way, the procedure works for children as well as adults. If you have grandchildren under nine, natural regeneration can leave the tooth as good as new because the roots are not formed yet and, as a result, will not suffer permanent damage. The tooth grows back into its socket and remains alive.

In older children and adults, the nerves in the tooth cannot survive the trauma. Root canal work has to be done, the canals cleaned out and filled. But the original tooth will be back in place, continuing to function normally for years.

Robin Westen is ThirdAges medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. She is the author of Ten Days to Detox: How to Look and Feel a Decade Younger.

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