What to do when you lose an adult tooth

As a child, tooth loss is an exciting time and a chance to meet the tooth fairy. But as an adult, tooth loss can be a traumatizing experience.

Some adults even report tooth loss in their dreams, and many psychologists have associated these dreams as symbolizing a loss of control over one’s life.

If you find yourself in this predicament – don’t panic. The following are a few tips that will help you to stay calm and save your smile should you lose an adult tooth.


Cartoon with check mark

  • handle your tooth with care
  • try to replace your tooth in the socket
  • call your local dentist immediately and do your research
  • protect your smile (and body) at all times

Cartoon with x mark

  • soak your tooth in water
  • call 911
  • panic if your tooth is only fractured
  • forget to practice good dental habits

[publishpress_authors_data]'s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do handle your tooth with care

If your tooth is knocked out, or “avulsed,” it's critical that you handle it with the utmost care. Grabbing your tooth by the root versus crown (top), may damage vital tissue and greatly diminish your dentist’s ability to repair it. Gently rinse it in a bowl of water and preserve the tooth by placing it in saliva, or a bowl of whole milk or sterile saline solution.

Do try to replace your tooth in the socket

As absurd as this may sound, you should try to replace the tooth back in its socket after it’s been sterilized. This process makes it easier for the dentist to re-implant the tooth and keeps the root healthy. Try to gently bite down on a gauze, wash cloth or tea bag, but don’t force it if it won’t fit.

If the root of the tooth is unhealthy, your dentist may choose to immobilize the tooth by temporarily attaching it to the adjacent teeth so that the bone can reattach to the root.

Do call your local dentist immediately and do your research

It’s important that you receive dental care as soon as possible. Avoiding the dentist after tooth loss could make it impossible to re-implant the tooth and can cause the tooth socket to become infected. The quicker you react, the more likely your dentist will be able to re-implant the tooth and save the socket and your smile.

Do your research, know your options, consult with patients who’ve lost an adult tooth, and get to a local dentist immediately. Dental lasers are great for dental implants and can treat your gums as your dentist repairs your smile, decreasing pain and the need for anesthesia.

Do protect your smile (and body) at all times

Hockey, football and basketball are just a few high impact activities that can result in tooth loss. When participating in any sport or activity where there's the risk of falling or receiving blows to the face, be sure to use safety equipment such as helmets, face masks and mouthguards.

If you can’t find a mouthguard that fits properly, talk to your dentist about getting one that's custom-made.

[publishpress_authors_data]'s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not soak your tooth in water

Soaking your tooth in water should be your last resort as water does not preserve your tooth as well as your own saliva, whole milk or sterile saline solution. If you don’t have any whole milk or sterile solution, make your own saline using ¼ teaspoon of salt and a cup of water. You can even it place the tooth between your gum and cheek as you’re on your way to the dentist’s office.

Do not call 911

Although you may feel like your world is falling apart, your local police and fire unit won’t see it that way. Simply call your local dentist to set up a same day appointment. If he/she is unable to take a walk in, visit a hospital emergency room.

Do not panic if your tooth is only fractured

When a person’s adrenaline gets pumping in the heat of the moment, a fractured tooth may be mistaken for a loose or missing adult tooth. Don’t panic – quickly get to a mirror to assess the damage. Try to wiggle the tooth, check closely for cracks and recover the missing piece, if possible.

If your tooth is fractured, it’s less urgent and doesn’t require immediate attention like a tooth separated from a gum as most dentists can fix chipped teeth with composites.

Do not forget to practice good dental habits

Good dental habits, such as regular brushing, flossing and dental office visits, are key to maintaining great oral health. Adults should brush their teeth twice a day and floss once a day, to prevent plaque buildup. Avoid candy, gum and other sugary snacks as these can lead to tooth loss and decay.

You should also see a local dentist once every six months and make an appointment if you ever experience tooth pain or other problems with your teeth. Letting a fear of the dentist stop you from going can be more detrimental than many people realize. Poor dental hygiene has been linked to a variety of health issues including heart disease, oral cancer, stroke and diabetes. Don’t let fear negatively impact your health.


Losing an adult tooth may feel like the end of the world, but if you stay calm, take the right steps and practice good dental habits in advance, it doesn’t have to be.

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