Milk + root surface cells | Saving a knocked-out tooth

A tooth can be knocked out – “avulsed” in dental speak – from an impact anywhere and anytime.  If you or your child plays sports with body contact (even accidental), the odds of losing a tooth are even higher.  Make sure you know how to save a knocked-out tooth, and you have a chance to restore your smile.

There are a few basic things to remember. Knowing them can save you money when a tooth is knocked out, but you may be able to keep the tooth! For example, did you know that you can save a knocked-out tooth by putting it in milk?

Saving a knocked-out tooth with milk | Act fast

Time is the most important factor to saving and preserving a tooth for successful re-implantation. In other words, get to the dentist or an emergency room as quickly as possible. The chance of re-implanting the tooth is low after just 30 minutes. If you can’t get to help that fast, the next-best thing to do is properly store the tooth.

First, keep the tooth moist by whatever means possible. If at all possible, put the tooth back in the socket. Your next best option is to store the tooth in milk.

Why use milk to save a knocked-out tooth? When the cells from the tooth’s root surface come into contact with water, they tend to swell up. They can even burst. Milk provides the proteins needed to maintain the proper pH balance, anti-bacterial properties, and sugars that keep these root cells growing.

If milk isn’t available, saliva, or storing the tooth inside your mouth are the next best options. Water is not the best or most effective option for preserving your tooth, but if it’s the only thing available, it’s better than holding it in your hand.

Don’t store the tooth in cloth or napkin. It will dry the tooth out, making it nearly impossible to save.

Two more tips to know when handling the knocked-out tooth can help your chances to save it.

  1. Hold the tooth by the crown– Always grab and hold the tooth by the crown (the chewing surface). Do not touch the root of the tooth. This can help keep the roots of the tooth cleaner if it can be saved.
  2. Rinse off the tooth– If you have access to clean water, give it a quick rinse to remove any dirt and debris. DO not to use any soap or cleaning products, and never scrub the tooth. A gentle stream of water will do the trick.

Acting fast and using these tips can go a long way to save a knocked-out tooth and improved chance that it can be re-implanted to restore your smile.

Learn more about other common causes of dental damage: