Many patients are under the impression that it’s illegal to keep their tooth. While every dentist will have his or her own rules about giving a patient their extracted tooth, here’s what the law has to say about it.
OSHA Regulations Regarding Teeth
There are no federal laws or regulations that prohibit or discourage dentists from giving patients their extracted teeth. However, it is frowned upon. According to OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogen Standard, extracted teeth are considered potentially infectious materials and should be handled accordingly. When a dental office disposes of extracted teeth, they must be placed in approved medical waste containers.
However, here’s the upswing: OSHA only regulates employees, not patients. According to Cottone’s Practical Infection Control in Dentistry, OSHA has no say in whether or not a patient can keep their tooth, and once the tooth is in the patient’s possession, it’s their property, and OSHA standards no longer apply.
CDC Regulations Regarding Teeth
As for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it agrees, stating on its website: “Extracted teeth may be returned to the patients upon request and are not subject to the provisions of the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.” So there you have it—your dentist is legally quite free to return your tooth to you. Whether she does or doesn’t is a matter of personal preference.
How to Preserve an Extracted Tooth
If you’d like to preserve your baby’s first tooth as a memento, or simply keep your tooth because it’s interesting, all you have to do is disinfect it to prevent bacteria from growing on it over time. Simply clean it thoroughly with rubbing alcohol, and place it in a small, airtight container.
Get Quality Dental Care with Lowcountry Dental Arts
If you are in need of a tooth extraction, wisdom tooth extraction, or other dental need, contact Lowcountry Dental Arts. Our Charleston SC dentistry has served hundreds of local clients, and we can’t wait to invite you to our practice. To schedule an appointment, click here.