Place a Permanent Tooth in Milk and Baby Tooth Under Pillow. Practical Steps During an Accidental Dental Emergency.

Matthew Mastrorocco, DMD
ROC Dental Group

Accidental dental emergencies can be scary. A sports mishap or a slip-and-fall can happen in a moment and often at the most inopportune time. Understandably, we are emotionally attached to our teeth, both cosmetically and functionally. I have found over the course of my 22-year career that being available with advice and reassurance during a stressful time is so valuable. In some cases, treatment can be postponed until normal business hours, but sometimes immediate attention is required. Following are common accidental tooth emergencies and practical steps you can take if you find yourself having one.

If a Tooth is Loose

Steps to Take:

  • Try to place the tooth back into its normal position and apply pressure to help re-attach the tooth to the bone structure
  • Call your dentist as soon as possible


  • The chances that a tooth will reattach to the bone depends upon the extent of damage and how quickly you see your dentist

If You Lose a Permanent Tooth

Steps to Take:

  • Carefully pick up the tooth and wipe off any visible particles such as dirt or dust
  • Place the tooth back in its socket and apply pressure
  • If you are unable to reposition the tooth keep it under your tongue surrounded by saliva
  • If you are unable to keep the tooth in your mouth, place it in a small glass of milk. Milk includes proteins that maintain pH balance, anti-bacterial substances, and sugars to promote cell growth 1.
  • Call your dentist as soon as possible


  • Cleaning the tooth with water or placing it in water. Water dehydrates the tooth, making reattachment difficult.
  • Going to the ER. Hospitals are typically not equipped for dentistry. They will very likely recommend seeing your dentist. Calling your dentist first will save you time and money.


  • Each situation is different. The likelihood of saving a permanent tooth depends on many factors, including your oral health and the amount of time the tooth was dislodged.
  • In some situations, a dental splint is required until the tooth can reattach itself to the jawbone. A dental splint looks like braces, but on a smaller scale. Your dentist attaches wires to the injured tooth as well as neighboring teeth to maintain its position as it heals.

If You Lose a Baby Tooth

Steps to Take:

  • Before bed, place the tooth under your pillow for the Tooth Fairy
  • If you are unable to find or recover the tooth, place a handwritten note under your pillow to explain the situation to the Tooth Fairy


  • Staying awake to meet the Tooth Fairy


  • Your tooth (or note) to be gone in the morning and replaced with a small gift
  • If this did not happen and your tooth is still under your pillow, go ahead and repeat the process the following night

If a Tooth Severely Pierces Your Tongue, Lip, or Cheek

  • Compress the wound with gauze to control any bleeding
  • Call your dentist as soon as possible


  • Your dentist will clean the area and remove any debris
  • Depending on the severity of the cut, dissolvable sutures may be required

If You Chip a Tooth

  • Don’t worry about collecting tooth fragments because they cannot be reattached to the tooth
  • Call your dentist and explain the situation. If you are not in pain, an emergency visit may not be necessary.


  • Treatment for a chipped tooth can vary significantly from a simple cosmetic procedure to more complex treatment, depending on the root’s damage

Preventing Non-Accidental Dental Emergencies

These dental emergencies are due to unavoidable and unfortunate accidents; however, many dental emergencies are avoided by seeing your dentist regularly for exams and hygiene cleanings to address issues before they become urgent. But if you do find yourself facing an unpredictable accident, know that dentists choose their careers because they wish to help people and will guide you through every step of an unfortunate dental emergency.


1 UHT milk best practical way to store knocked-out teeth, University of Queensland study