As summer rolls around and our kids are spending more time outside, playing sports, riding bikes and just running around, we see an increase in the number of injuries to teeth that come to our office. Depending on the type and severity of the dental trauma, the initial response and treatment can be the determining factor in saving a tooth or losing it.
One of the most severe dental injuries happens when a tooth is avulsed or knocked out of the mouth. This happens when a tooth gets hit hard enough that the traumatic force pushes the tooth out of the socket. This can happen from falling off a bicycle, getting hit with playground equipment, or even just running into someone while playing. Just this week, we had a patient get hit with a baseball that caused the front incisor to be pushed out.
When this happens to either a child or an adult, how you react during the first several minutes is critical to saving the tooth. By following the steps below, you will increase the chance of tooth survival.
1. Remain calm and locate the tooth. This can be difficult at times but it is important to find the tooth.
2. Avoid touching the root of the tooth as this may damage the root surface. Gently clean the tooth with water to remove any dirt or debris.
3. If possible, re-insert the tooth into the socket and hold in place with gentle pressure. By getting the tooth in quickly, you will increase the chance of saving the tooth.
4. If you are unable to insert the tooth, place the tooth in milk which will help preserve the root surface.
5. If the tooth that was lost is a baby tooth, do not put it back into the socket as this may damage the developing adult tooth under the gums.
6. Call your dental office immediately so that they can reposition the tooth and support the tooth with a bonded orthodontic wire. This will help hold the tooth in position as the gum and bone heals.
Research shows the sooner the tooth can be re-inserted, the better the chance of tooth survival. Ideally, the tooth should be put back into the socket within 30 minutes or sooner. Teeth that are inserted later than 30 minutes have a higher chance of being lost. Further procedures, such as root canal treatment and restorative treatment, are often needed to help preserve the tooth.
In addition to knowing how to deal with an avulsed tooth, it is important to try to avoid tooth trauma in the first place. One great way to protect teeth during sports is to wear a properly fitting mouth guard. By wearing a mouth guard, the chance of tooth trauma is much less. Anyone who plays sports that include contact and/or hard equipment should consider wearing a custom mouth guard. Though custom guards are more expensive than over-the-counter guards, they tend to fit better, are more comfortable and are more protective of the teeth.
If you have any questions pertaining to treatment of dental trauma, mouth guards or any other dental topic, contact our office at (937)-434-8870 or send me an e-mail at [email protected].
Dr. Almoney and the Almoney & Brown Dental Team