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What is the Best Method to Store a Knocked-out Tooth Before Seeing a Dentist?

Accidents happen, and one of the most common dental emergencies is a knocked-out tooth. Whether it occurs due to a sports injury, a fall, or any other unexpected event, knowing how to handle the situation can make all the difference in saving your tooth. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the best method to store a knocked-out tooth before seeing a dentist and increase the chances of successful reattachment.

When a tooth gets knocked out, time is of the essence. The longer the tooth is outside of the mouth, the lower the chances of successful reattachment become. That’s why it’s crucial to act swiftly and effectively. To increase the chances of saving your knocked-out tooth, follow these steps:

Handle the Tooth Carefully:

The first step is to pick up the knocked-out tooth by the crown, which is the part of the tooth used for chewing. Avoid touching the root of the tooth as it contains delicate cells that are essential for reattachment.

Rinse Gently (If Needed):

If the tooth is dirty, you can rinse it gently with a saline solution or cold milk. Avoid using tap water, as it may damage the tooth’s cells. Do not scrub or clean aggressively, as this can harm the tooth.

Attempt to Reposition the Tooth:

If possible, try to reposition the knocked-out tooth back into its socket gently. It’s essential to do this within the first few minutes after the tooth has been knocked out. Hold it in place using a piece of gauze or clean fingers. If it doesn’t go back into place easily, do not force it.

Store It Appropriately:

If repositioning the tooth in the socket is not possible, the best method for storing it is in a container filled with milk. Milk helps preserve the tooth’s delicate cells and increases the chances of successful reattachment. If milk is unavailable, you can use a saline solution or even saliva, but milk is the preferred choice.

Use an Emergency Tooth Preservation Kit (If Available):

Some pharmacies sell emergency tooth preservation kits that contain a special solution. This solution mimics the conditions in your mouth and can keep the tooth viable for a short time. Follow the instructions provided in the kit.

Keep It Moist:

It’s crucial to keep the knocked-out tooth moist at all times. Dry conditions can quickly lead to irreversible damage. Avoid wrapping the tooth in a dry tissue or cloth.

Do Not Store in Water or Saline Solution for Extended Periods:

While you can use water or saline solution temporarily, it’s not recommended for long-term storage, as these fluids do not provide the same level of protection as milk or a tooth preservation kit.

Seek Immediate Dental Care:

Regardless of how well you store the knocked-out tooth, you should see a dentist as soon as possible. The dentist will assess the tooth’s condition and determine if reattachment is possible. The success rate is significantly higher when you act promptly.

What to Not Do When Dealing With a Knocked-out Tooth:

Equally important as knowing what to do is understanding what not to do when dealing with a knocked-out tooth:

  1. Try to stay as calm as possible. A clear mind will help you handle the situation effectively.
  2. Avoid touching the root of the tooth as much as possible. Handle it only by the crown.
  3. Gently rinsing the tooth is sufficient. Do not scrub or clean the tooth aggressively, as this can damage it.
  4. Time is of the essence when dealing with a knocked-out tooth. Do not postpone seeking dental care, as immediate action increases the chances of saving the tooth.
  5. While it’s crucial to reposition the tooth gently in its socket if possible, avoid any DIY reattachment attempts. Leave this to a dental professional who can assess the situation properly.
  6. Avoid wrapping the tooth in a dry tissue or cloth, as this can lead to the tooth drying out.
  7. Do not store the knocked-out tooth in tap water, as it can harm the tooth’s cells and reduce the chances of successful reattachment.

By following these don’ts when dealing with a knocked-out tooth, you can increase the likelihood of preserving the tooth and maintaining your oral health. Remember, immediate action and proper care are key to a successful outcome.


Knowing the best method to store a knocked-out tooth before seeing a dentist is crucial in increasing the chances of successful reattachment. Remember to pick up the tooth carefully, rinse it gently, and store it in milk or an emergency preservation kit if repositioning it in the socket isn’t possible. Avoid common mistakes like touching the root or using tap water.