When a Knocked Out Tooth Can't Be Found
What do you need to do when an accident has knocked out one of your teeth? You need to hurry. Avulsed teeth (which is the formal term for teeth that have detached from their dental sockets) can be re-implanted and splinted to their neighbours until they heal—but only if you rush, as every minute counts. And of course, this method is only possible if you can find the tooth. What do you need to do when a tooth has been knocked out, but cannot be located?
Gone for Good
It's not as though an accident that directed enough force to your face to knock out a tooth is a peaceful occurrence. You're likely to be in considerable pain and distress, and you may be bleeding from your empty dental socket. It can be difficult to calmly search for a missing tooth under these circumstances. Sometimes the tooth cannot be located despite your best efforts. It might be on the ground in your immediate vicinity. However, you may have easily swallowed it in the confusion. Clearly, once a tooth has entered your digestive tract, it's gone. It will eventually emerge in your faeces but has no value for re-implantation by this stage.
See Your Dentist
Although re-implantation is no longer an option, you still need to see your dentist. The case should be treated as an emergency. Your dentist will control your bleeding and will take steps to minimise swelling. The dental socket will also be carefully inspected as there may be remaining tooth fragments. These are unlikely to be sufficient for your dentist to rebuild the tooth, and will be extracted.
Your initial treatment will address the immediate consequences of your injury, and subsequent treatment may be delayed until you've had adequate time to heal. Replacement of the missing tooth will be the next step. Your dentist may provide you with a temporary partial denture to disguise the gap in your smile once your gum tissues and dental socket have sufficiently healed. Yet, this may not be a sufficient long-term solution.
The likely recommendation will be for a dental implant, and this should proceed as soon as possible. When a permanent tooth is lost, the underlying bone experiences some resorption. It literally loses mass because it no longer has to support the weight of the tooth. This can be corrected with bone grafting. However, if a dental implant is installed shortly after a tooth has been lost, grafting will not be necessary. As such, it's in your best interests to avoid delays when it comes to receiving a dental implant.
Speedy re-implantation is the preferred outcome when a tooth has been knocked out. When this isn't an option, you will still need urgent treatment, with a view to quickly replacing the missing tooth with an appropriate prosthesis. For more information, contact a dentist.