the Australian Dental Association
Written by the Australian Dental Association, Aug 23, 2023
Fact Checked

Accidents can badly damage the health of teeth. They can cause teeth can become cracked, chipped or loose. In extreme cases, teeth can be knocked out of the mouth completely. Not having your teeth checked by a dentist after a mouth injury may cause long term damage that could have otherwise been avoided.

Injuries to the mouth and teeth commonly happen in the late afternoon or on weekends. It is important to know how to deal with them. If you, a friend or family member become injured, it is best to see a dentist as soon as possible. Check if your usual dentist provides emergency treatment outside of normal working hours. If not, use the ADA's Find-a-dentist search tool to find an ADA member dentist near you.

Dental injuries

Injuries to the face and mouth can affect one or more teeth. These teeth can be affected by the following ways.
Teeth are moved from their original position
The tooth or teeth may be pushed back up into the gum, pushed backwards or sideways. Try to move the teeth gently back to their original position and softly close the front teeth on a cloth or tissue.
Teeth are cracked, chipped, or fractured
If you can find the fractured tooth fragment, take it with you to the dentist. In some cases, this can be reattached to the tooth.
Teeth become loose
See a dentist for them to find out why the tooth has become loose. If a tooth has fractured, this can be one of the causes for it becoming loose.

No matter what type of trauma occurs, it is best to visit your dentist as soon as possible.

What to do if baby teeth are knocked out

If your child knocks out a baby tooth, the tooth should not be placed back in the mouth. Remain calm and take the tooth with you to see your child’s dentist straight away. The dentist will check to make sure that no other damage to the bone, lips, cheeks or other teeth has occurred.

If you are unsure whether the tooth is a baby or adult tooth, follow these steps:

  1. Pick up the tooth by the crown. This is the part of the tooth that is visible in the mouth.
  2. Place the tooth in milk or the person's own saliva to transport it to the dentist as soon as possible.

Do not worry if only part of the tooth root is present. Older children may not have much tooth root left on their baby tooth as the tooth might have been getting ready to fall out naturally. The tooth root is eaten away for the baby tooth to become loose before falling out. This happens as the adult tooth starts to push its way into the mouth. If part of the tooth root is missing, the dentist will check that this is what has happened. They may need to take a x-ray to check.  

What to do if adult teeth are knocked out

If an adult or permanent tooth is knocked out, remain calm and act quickly. It is best to try to see your dentist within 30 minutes.

If you know it is an adult tooth, follow these steps:
  1. Find the tooth and pick it up by the crown, not the root surface. The crown is the part of the tooth that can be seen inside the mouth. The root holds the tooth to the jawbone and is cannot usually be seen without a dental x-ray.
  2. If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse it in milk or saline. Do not scrub the tooth.
  3. Place the tooth in the empty space in the mouth where the tooth was located before. Make sure it is facing the correct way.
  4. Gently bite down on soft cloth or tissue to hold the tooth in place until you see the dentist.

If you cannot place the tooth back in the mouth, place it safely in a container and cover the tooth with milk or the person's own saliva. Do not transport the tooth in water or wrapped up in a tissue or cloth.

Do not wait to a dentist. Having treatment as soon as possible can help to improve the long-term outcome.

Sports mouthguards

Children, teenagers and adults are recommended to wear a mouthguard when playing sports where there is a risk of contact with the face and mouth. Dentists recommend a custom-made mouthguard made by dentists for the greatest level of protection. Mouthguards act to absorb and spread the impact of a knock to the face, which may otherwise result in an injury to the mouth or jaw/s. Mouthguards should be worn during training and on game day.

Read more about Sports mouthguards.


The Australian Dental Association and Sports Medicine Australia have developed a Mouthguard Policy for sports clubs to implement a ‘no mouthguard, no play’ policy. All Australian sports clubs are encouraged to sign up and make wearing mouthguards mandatory for their players.