Whether it's at home, or on the sporting field, or wherever this bad luck might strike—if your child has an accident that has knocked out a tooth, then a race against time must begin. You really need to rush if a dentist has any chance of reattaching the tooth. But how exactly does a dentist do this?
Every Minute Counts
Immediate action is needed for a dentist to be able to reattach a lost tooth. Every minute counts, so it's a matter of efficiently managing the situation before immediately going to the nearest emergency dentist. The tooth must be handled with extreme delicacy. Do not touch the nerve endings at its base. Rinse it under cold water if necessary, and then seal it in an appropriate container. Do not immerse it in water during transport (since this can damage its nerve endings). If you should have any available, you can submerge the tooth in UHT milk for transport, as this preserves the tooth's nerve endings. Don't go and buy milk at the time of the accident, as this will take too much time; you're better off going straight to the dentist. If your child is extremely careful not to swallow it, the tooth can be stored in their cheek.
A Lost Baby Tooth
When the lost tooth is a baby tooth that would have soon be lost anyway, the dentist might only opt to treat the injury without reattaching the tooth. This depends on your child's dental development at the time of the accident, as in, if the adult tooth that will replace the baby tooth is already waiting to erupt from your child's gums. An X-ray will generally be performed to confirm the presence of the adult tooth, while also checking for any secondary trauma that might require treatment (such as damage to your child's jawbone).
A Lost Adult Tooth
In cases when it's decided that the baby tooth needs to be retained (such as when there would be a considerable amount of time before the replacement tooth develops), or when your child has lost a permanent, adult tooth, the emergency dentist will attempt to reattach the tooth. It will be splinted into position, via a secure tether to the intact teeth on either side of the missing tooth. This splint will be kept in place for several weeks, during which time the tooth's nerve endings will reattach to the surrounding tissue, while the tooth itself fuses back into position. This process is similar to receiving a dental implant. Regular appointments might be required during the splinting process, just to ensure that the reattachment remains on track.
So when your child's tooth has been knocked out, you need to drop everything (while picking up the tooth) and contact an emergency dentist.