Mouth injuries in children and teens are more common than you might think: about one out of three boys and one out of four girls will have experienced an injury before they graduate from high school. Besides contact sports, other types of accidents like car crashes or falls are high on the cause list.
Although most dental injuries aren’t considered true emergencies, there are a few where prompt action may mean the difference between ultimately saving or losing a tooth. One such situation is a knocked out tooth.
In the event of a knocked out (or avulsed) tooth, your primary goal is to place the tooth back into the empty socket as quickly as possible. Teeth that have been out of the mouth for less than five minutes have the best chance of reattachment and survival. The first step is to quickly locate the missing tooth.
Once you’ve found it, use only cold, clean water run or poured over the tooth to carefully clean off dirt or debris (no soaps or cleansers). You should also avoid touching the tooth root or scrubbing any part of it. After cleaning it of debris, gently place the tooth back in its socket, then immediately contact us or visit an emergency room. While you’re en route to our office the patient should carefully hold the tooth in place. If the tooth can’t be immediately placed into the socket (the patient is unconscious, for example), then you should place the tooth in a clean container and keep it moist with cold milk, a sterile saline solution or even the patient’s saliva.
Taking these steps increases the chances of a successful re-implantation, although the injury may ultimately affect the tooth’s lifespan. Replanted teeth can suffer from root resorption (where the root tissue dissolves) or a process known as ankylosis in which the tooth fuses directly to the jawbone with no healthy periodontal ligament in between. Either of these conditions can lead to tooth loss.
Still, it’s worthwhile to try to save the tooth, even if for a few more years. Those extra years can help you prepare for a future restoration.
If you would like more information on responding to dental injuries, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Accidental Tooth Loss.”
Professional Hockey player Keith Yandle is the current NHL “iron man”—that is, he has earned the distinction of playing in the most consecutive games. On November 23, Yandle was in the first period of his 820th consecutive game when a flying puck knocked out or broke nine of his front teeth. He returned third period to play the rest of the game, reinforcing hockey players’ reputation for toughness. Since talking was uncomfortable, he texted sportswriter George Richards the following day: “Skating around with exposed roots in your mouth is not the best.”
We agree with Yandle wholeheartedly. What we don’t agree with is waiting even one day to seek treatment after serious dental trauma. It was only on the following day that Yandle went to the dentist. And after not missing a game in over 10 years, Yandle wasn’t going to let a hiccup like losing, breaking or cracking nearly a third of his teeth interfere with his iron man streak. He was back on the ice later that day to play his 821st game.
As dentists, we don’t award points for toughing it out. If anything, we give points for saving teeth—and that means getting to the dentist as soon as possible after suffering dental trauma and following these tips:
Although keeping natural teeth for life is our goal, sometimes the unexpected happens. If a tooth cannot be saved after injury or if a damaged tooth must be extracted, there are excellent tooth replacement options available. With today’s advanced dental implant technology, it is possible to have replacement teeth that are indistinguishable from your natural teeth—in terms of both look and function.
And always wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports! A custom mouthguard absorbs some of the forces of impact to help protect you against severe dental injury.
If you would like more information about how to protect against or treat dental trauma or about replacing teeth with dental implants, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Dental Implants: A Tooth-Replacement Method That Rarely Fails” and “The Field-Side Guide to Dental Injuries.”
According to NFL football legend Jerry Rice, “Football can be brutalÃ¢Â€Â”injuries, including those to the face and mouth, are a common risk for any player.” And if anyone should know, it would be Jerry.
During an interview with Dear Doctor magazine, the retired NFL pro discussed his good fortune to have had just a few minor dental injuries during his pro playing days. He credits this success to the trainers and protective equipment professional football teams have to keep the players off the injured list. However, this was not the case during his earlier years in football. “There wasn't a lot of focus on protecting your teeth in high school,” he said. “You had to buy your own mouthguard.” He continued, “Things changed, though, when I went to college.”
Unfortunately, not much has changed since Jerry's high school days for young athletes. This is why we feel it is so important that parents and caregivers understand the risks and take proactive steps towards protecting the teeth, gums, bone and soft tissues of their children with a mouthguard. This is especially true for anyone — adults included — participating in high-contact sports such as basketball, baseball, hockey (field and ice), football, soccer, wrestling, martial arts, boxing and activities such as skateboarding, in-line skating and skydiving.
But all mouthguards are not the same. The best mouthguard, based upon evidence-based research, is one that is custom-designed and made by a dental professional, with the athlete's individual needs taken into account.
We make our custom mouthguards from precise and exact molds of your teeth, and we use resilient and tear-resistant materials. Once completed, it should be comfortable yet fit snugly so that you are able to talk and breathe easily with it in place. It should also be odorless, tasteless, not bulky and have excellent retention, fit and sufficient thickness in critical areas.
And while mouthguards may seem indestructible, they do require proper care. You should clean it before and after each use with a toothbrush and toothpaste, transport and store the mouthguard in a sturdy container that has vents, make sure not to leave it in the sun or in hot water and rinse it with cold, soapy water or mouthwash after each use. And last but not least, you should periodically check it for wear and tear so that you will know when replacement is needed.
To learn more about mouthguards, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Athletic Mouthguards.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination and make molds of your teeth for your custom mouthguard. And if you want to read the entire feature article on Jerry Rice continue reading “Jerry Rice — An Unbelievable Rise To NFL Stardom.”