Managing dental injuries during sports is fairly common for children and adults. Sports-related dental injuries can range from a minor chip of a tooth to a violent collision resulting in the whole tooth being knocked out.
In this column, we will discuss the immediate steps to take if a tooth gets knocked out.
Firstly, if trauma results in the entire tooth being knocked out, it’s important to act swiftly and carefully to increase the chances of saving the tooth. If it’s a child, one should determine whether the tooth is a permanent or baby tooth. Baby teeth are not saved or re-implanted since they have very short roots and will be eventually lost. If it’s a permanent tooth then follow these important steps below:
- Never touch the tooth with your fingers by the root. The root contains important fibers, called periodontal ligaments that are necessary for proper healing and reattachment to the bone. If the tooth is on the ground, then hold the tooth by the crown (biting) surface area and not the root.
- Do not use soap or chemicals to clean the tooth. Don’t scrub the tooth. Don’t dry the tooth and don’t wrap the tooth in a tissue or cloth. If the tooth is visibly dirty, rinse briefly with tap water. Immediately put the tooth back into the tooth socket, if possible. Afterwards, try to get to a dentist soonest or the nearest walk-in clinic. Be sure to take the tooth with you.
- While heading to a dentist put the tooth back in the mouth next to the cheek or in a small container of milk. The idea here is for the root to stay moist and not pick up outside germs.
- Thus far, you note that everything one should do is time sensitive. This is because it’s an important factor in the survival of the tooth. If the tooth is replaced into the socket within five minutes of being knocked out, it is likely to survive. After 5 minutes and up to 60 minutes, there is a good survival rate as long as the tooth remains moist. If the tooth is out of the mouth for more than 60 minutes, the chance for survival decreases significantly.
At the dentist’s office the tooth likely will be re-implanted and bonded to the adjacent teeth for two to eight weeks to avoid any movement. At some point in this process, a root canal will be necessary for long-term survival of the tooth.
In sports, despite the best strategies for saving a tooth that was knocked out, the best option is prevention. An athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer dental injuries when not wearing a mouthguard. A properly made mouth guard can protect the teeth by cushioning the impact and spreading the forces.
Mouthguards today are not expensive. It can add a tremendous amount of protection and should be used with all contact sports that has the potential for mouth injury.
Deliberate action is important when a tooth is knocked out. Putting measures in place like a mouthguard to protect the teeth is likely to avoid such emergencies and trauma. Remember, prevention is better and much less expensive than cure.
For further questions, kindly contact our website at www.csddentistry.com
Dr. Kendal V. O. Major is Founder and CEO of Center for Specialized Dentistry which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in Nassau and Freeport. He is the first Bahamian Specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He also is a certified Fastbraces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, Nassau at (242)325-5165