The first thing to do when you lose or crack a tooth is not to panic but go to a dentist as soon as possible. You can’t treat a cracked tooth yourself and you need help to successfully replant a tooth that’s been knocked out, or avulsed.

What to Do before Seeing the Dentist

If you break your tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water. If the tooth is bleeding, bite down gently on either a bit of gauze or a used teabag. Then, place a cold compress over the area of the broken tooth.

If you can’t find an emergency dentist, try to get to an all-night drugstore and buy some dental cement. When you get back home, paint some of the dental cement the broken area of the tooth, and take an analgesic if you’re hurting.

If you lose your tooth, make sure to only touch the crown, or the top, and not the root. Clean it very gently and briefly with water, salt water or milk. Then, put it back in the socket in your jaw. Bite down on gauze to stabilize it. If you can’t put the tooth back in its socket, put it in a cup of milk or tuck it in between your cheek and your gums. Don’t put the tooth in water because water won’t preserve it.

What Happens at the Dentist

If your tooth is cracked, they’ll evaluate how serious the crack is. If the crack is minor and only affects the enamel, they’ll polish the tooth. If the fracture is serious, the dentist may fill it the way they fill a cavity. Sometimes, they will place a crown, or artificial tooth over your damaged natural tooth to protect it. If the crack has penetrated down into the pulp, the dentist may have to perform a root canal. This is where they take the affected pulp out, clean the chambers, and fill them with a special substance. The dentist may then give you a filling or a crown.

When you reach the dentist with an avulsed tooth, they will clean the area, repair any damage to your gums, make sure that the tooth is in good position and apply a splint that you’ll wear for about two weeks. They’ll give you antibiotics, and you’ll return to the dentist’s office after about a week for root canal therapy.

Losing or cracking a tooth is scary, whether you are an adult or a child. The good news is that if the tooth is handled the right way and you hurry to your emergency dentist, it can be fixed or even replanted. This both restores your smile and your tooth’s functionality.