About a broken or knocked-out tooth
If you can't put an adult tooth back into position, place it in milk and contact your usual dental practice. If the tooth is broken or is loose contact your usual dental practice as soon as possible. If you are not sure, it is better to seek advice.
You may be able to see a dentist straight away or you may be directed to an urgent care dental service.
If you don’t have a regular dentist, see out of hours emergency dental treatment on where to get urgent care.
A knocked-out tooth
If you knock out a tooth, you should:
- find the tooth
- hold it by the crown (the white bit that sticks out of the gum)
- gently rinse it in water
- put it back into position (adult teeth only); never try to put back in a baby tooth (see below)
- bite on a handkerchief to hold the tooth in place
- go to see a dentist as an emergency
If you can't put the tooth back in position, put it in milk and see a dentist straight away.
The sooner a knocked-out tooth is re-implanted, the more likely it is to embed itself back into the gum.
If your child knocks out a baby tooth, you shouldn't try to re-implant it because you may damage the adult tooth growing underneath. Take your child to see a dentist immediately.
At the dentist
If you've put your tooth back in yourself, the dentist will check that it's in the right position by having a look and taking an X-ray. They'll splint it to the teeth either side to hold it in position for about two weeks and arrange follow-up treatment.
If you've put your tooth in milk and gone straight to the dentist, the dentist will numb the affected area and try to reposition the tooth.
A lost tooth
If you can't find your tooth, the space can be filled with one of the following:
- denture – a removable false tooth that you have to take out to clean
- bridge – where a false tooth is glued to the teeth either side using a special cement
- implant – where a titanium screw is placed in the jaw bone, and after a few months a mould is taken so that a false tooth can be made
Some treatments can be provided by the health service in Northern Ireland if you are eligible.
Speak to your dentist about your options, to help you decide what you would like.
A chipped tooth
If the tooth is just chipped, with a small piece missing from the tooth, you should make an appointment to see a dentist. This isn't urgent and can wait until the dental surgery is open.
If you have chipped your tooth:
- try to find the fragment
- store it in milk
- see a dentist as soon as possible during working hours
The dentist may be able to glue the fragment back on to the tooth.
Don't worry if you can’t find the fragment, your dentist will be able to use a tooth-coloured filling material to build your tooth up. If the damage is more extensive, your dentist will discuss treatment options with you.
Protecting your teeth during sports
If you play a sport, such as rugby, hockey or GAA games, where there's a risk of being hit in the mouth, you may want to consider getting a mouthguard made by a dentist to protect your teeth.
The Dental Trauma UK website has more information about the management of dental trauma and mouthguards