If You Did This To Your Child’s Knocked Out Tooth You Would Mess Up Everything!

Avulsed tooth Pinterest infographic on knocked out teeth WRONG

One of the REAL MOM’S out there suggested I look at some of the dental advice on Pinterest. Boy, am I glad I did.

Have you ever heard the expression about learning something “by osmosis?” Well, it’s important to learn something “about” osmosis. It may make all the difference in saving your child’s healthy and happy smile.

I saw some really dangerous advise given on one of the info graphics about emergency dentistry. I screen captured only part of it, specifically NOT including the dental office as I don’t want to embarrass them. Here’s the part I grabbed (and yes, the red markings  saying WRONG are mine).

Avulsed tooth Pinterest infographic on knocked out teeth WRONGHere’s the problem. When a child’s tooth is knocked completely out of its socket (called an Avulsed tooth), the most important thing to know is that it’s usually possible to save that tooth for life.

However, there’s a big IF (or two or three):

  • IF the tooth was knocked out but still fully intact, it’s usually the periodontal ligament that attaches the tooth to the jaw bone that was severed. Some of these ligament cells remain attached to the tooth, even if you find it laying in the mud or grass on the ground.
  • IF you can clean the tooth off and get it back into the socket and positioned right where it was previously (and do it within 2-3 minutes ideally), you have your best chance of saving the tooth for life, but that’s only …
  • IF you don’t damage the ligament cells by wiping them with anything (seriously, don’t wipe the roots with anything) and …
  • IF you rinse the roots off with something that WON’T damage the remaining ligament cells. The injured person’s saliva is ideal if they’re up to spitting on the root or licking the dirt off (some people are too grossed out or injured to do this). Another person’s saliva will also work so just pick up the person’s tooth by the crown (the enamel-covered part that is not the roots) and spit on it until the dirt is removed. Then put the tooth right back in the socket if possible (good news is that the quicker you do this, the person’s mouth is often short-term numb from the impact injury). However …
  • IF you can’t re-implant the tooth in the socket, store the tooth in a solution that won’t damage the ligament cells. These include saliva, salt-water, or MILK. Yep, good old cow’s milk (not almond or soy or rice). It doesn’t matter whether the milk is skim or whole or anything in between. Just buy a small carton of milk and drop the tooth into it. You’ll have the best chances of saving the tooth …
  • IF you get to the dentist WITHIN ONE HOUR OR LESS to have the tooth re-implanted (if it hasn’t already been done) and then stabilized (a MUST if you want success).

Do not rinse the roots of knocked out teeth with plain water of any kind, whether from a tap or bottled water. It will speed up the death of the ligament cells still attached to the root.

Do you see why the second part of the infographic is so dangerous? It’s all about OSMOSIS. Wikipedia’s definition is pretty accurate.

Osmosis is the spontaneous net movement of solvent molecules through a semi-permeable membrane into a region of higher solute concentration, in the direction that tends to equalize the solute concentrations on the two sides.

The ligament cells still viable on the roots of knocked out teeth have membranes around them (semi-permeable it turns out). The inside of the cell has a higher concentration of solutes (the stuff dissolved in a liquid solution) than water (the solvent in this case). So if you rinse these ligament cells with plain water, osmotic forces will cause the plain water to move into the cells, diluting the solution inside, and actually blowing up the cell membranes.

It’s like if you just kept filling and filling a water balloon. Eventually it will pop. No Bueno.

The reason any type of cow’s milk is great for transporting the tooth to the dentist, while it’s out of its socket, is because it has a similar osmotic tension to your inner body where those ligaments normally exist in the mouth. Now you know. NEVER put plain water of any type on a knocked out tooth. As gross as it sounds, spit is better because it also has the right osmotic tension.

For better info on how to get the best results for treating a knocked out tooth, check out our Emergencies section, and in particular, this page.

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