You’re outside with your family, enjoying time with them by tossing the old pigskin around. Everything is going great until your cousin tackles you to the ground a little too hard. A sharp pain suddenly shoots through your mouth. You notice that one of your teeth is lying on the grass next to your face! After calling your emergency dentist, what should you do? Whether your tooth was knocked out like this or some other reason, here’s why keeping a knocked-out tooth in milk helps.
How Placing the Tooth in Milk Helps
You may have heard this theory be dismissed as an old wives’ tale, but, believe it or not, it’s actually true! Cow’s milk is extremely compatible with broken or knocked-out teeth, as it helps to maintain the correct balance of fluid in the tooth’s root. This helps it survive outside of the mouth for a little longer, upping the chances that it can later be successfully reattached by your emergency dentist.
If you completely knocked out a tooth, you should always attempt to place it back in the socket by gently biting down on a piece of gauze or cloth. However, if that’s just not possible for you, storing your tooth (or the broken pieces of your tooth) in a container of milk until you can see your dentist is the next best thing.
What Else You Should Do If You Break or Dislodge a Tooth
Before you do anything else, call your dentist. A knocked-out adult tooth has the best chance of being successfully reimplanted if you see a dental professional within an hour after the incident.
If the area where your tooth once was is bleeding, wet a piece of gauze or cloth with cold water and apply pressure to the area with it.
For a tooth that has been entirely knocked-out — with no broken pieces left behind in the mouth — gently pick the tooth up by its crown (the part that you use to bite and chew). Whatever you do, DON’T grab it by the pointed root. If only a portion of the tooth was broken off, try and collect as many pieces as you can and keep them in milk until you get to your dentist’s office. There is a chance that they can be reattached later by your dentist.
Chipping, breaking, or even knocking out a tooth doesn’t have to be the end of the world. As long as you can see your emergency dentist soon enough, your tooth can usually be fixed, provided you store it in milk until you can get to your dentist’s office.
About the Author
Dr. Dennis E. Stansbury earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery at Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas more than 44 years ago. He has also earned a Fellowship with the American College of Dentists. If you call his Tyler, TX office with a dental emergency, his friendly and helpful team will do everything they can in order to see you on the same day and get you out of pain fast. If you’ve just knocked out or broken a tooth, you can contact Dr. Stansbury’s office by calling (903) 561-1122.