What To Do With Damaged Or Knocked Out Teeth

If a tooth is accidentally damaged or knocked out, you need to know how to treat it properly to give it the best possible chance of surviving.

If a tooth is cracked or chipped, see a dentist as soon as possible. Place any broken piece of tooth into a small amount of milk, or plastic wrap if milk in unavailable, and take them to the dentist with you.

If a primary (baby) tooth is knocked out, it is important to keep in mind;

  • Do not attempt to put the tooth back into the socket. This may lead to damage of the permanent tooth or lead to infection
  • See a dentist straight away to check if any pieces of tooth remain in the socket and to make sure no other damage has been done
  • To control bleeding, apply pressure directly to the injured area woth a clean cloth. To minimise swelling, an ice pack or cold compress can be applied to the site of the injury

If a secondary (adult) tooth is knocked out, it is important to do the following immediately;

  • Locate the tooth and handle gently
  • If soiled or dirty, rinse the entire tooth in milk or, very quickly, in water to clean it
  • Place the tooth back in the socket – ONLY IF IT IS INTACT, making sure it is facing the right way around. It is important to replace the tooth within 5-10 mintues of the tooth being knocked out
  • Hold the tooth in place by biting gently into a soft cloth or covering the damaged tooth and the teeth either side with aluminium foil. If a mouthguard was not being worn at the time of the accident, but is present, this can also be used to hold the tooth in place
  • If it is difficult to put the tooth back into the socket or it is not intact, keep it moist by putting it in a small amount of milk or sealing it in plastic wrap
  • If in doubt about whether the tooth is a baby or adult tooth, put it back into the socket. The risk of permanent damage to an adult tooth not replaced is greater than the damage caused by a baby tooth being put back in


Immediately seek dental treatment for any damaged teeth – time is critical to prevent permanent damage


Extreme care should be taken with a tooth that has been knocked out. Try to avoid the following;

  • Do not handle the root of the tooth
  • Do not scrape or rub the surface of the tooth
  • Do not let the tooth dry out – keep moist at all times
  • Do not put the tooth in ice or hot water
  • Avoid rinsing or storing the tooth in water for more than one or two seconds
  • Do not remove any soft tissue fragments from the tooth