Assess the Situation
Did the entire tooth come out? If not and there are broken pieces still in the gum you’re going to need to get to a dentist or emergency room immediately. If there aren’t any pieces in the gum and the tooth is intact, it will need to be replaced into the socket.
When handling the tooth make sure that you hold it by the crown and not the root. If the tooth is dirty it can be rinsed with milk or saline (such as contact solution). Milk is best, but you definitely don’t want to use water. Plain water can actually damage the cells on the root of the tooth that are needed in order for the tooth to reattach. Gently rinse the tooth and make sure that you do not scrub! Don’t dry it off or anything, just rinse and replace.
Put That Thing Back Where It Came From
You have the tooth (holding it by the crown, not the root), it’s been rinsed of any dirt, and you’re ready to replace it in the socket. Now what? In most cases the tooth will slip right back into the socket. You just need to be gentle and make sure that the tooth is facing the right direction. This probably seems silly to mention, but anything can happen in the heat of the moment. Gently slide the tooth into the socket. If there’s resistance or it doesn’t go back in easily don’t try to force it. You don’t want to do anything to damage the gums. If you’re able to reinsert it, have the injured person, very gently, bite down on a towel or other soft fabric in order to hold the tooth in place while you get to a dentist.
If the tooth won’t go back in, you’ll need to keep it moist until you get to the dentist. There are a few options for this, the simplest of which is to have the person spit into a cup and then place the tooth in the cup with the saliva. You can also place some milk or saline in a cup and store the tooth that way.
If the tooth isn’t able to reattach or the broken portion seems irreparable, a periodontist like Dr. Kenzik can help guide you through the many options available for repair or replacement of the damaged tooth.