Accidents! They happen so quickly!
One of our dentists at Your Smile Dental Care remembers the time he hit his mouth on the handle of a jet ski during summer holidays. He recalls approaching his father (a dentist) very reluctantly who was sitting with 4 other dentists whose families were also vacationing with them. While a broken or knocked out front tooth may be every parent’s nightmare, it’s horrific for a dental parent – even though they are familiar with all the treatment options and outcomes.
Over the years we’ve seen many facial and dental injuries and we’re always surprised just how resilient teeth really are! Considering the degree of trauma that some teeth experience during an injury, one would think that we would see more “knocked out” (avulsed) teeth than we actually do.
A few months ago, a young boy fell while riding his scooter and his adult front tooth fell out. His parents called our after-hours emergency number and we set up an appointment for him immediately. We were able to place the tooth back into it’s socket and stabilize it. Because the tooth had fallen onto the ground and become contaminated he was sent home with a special antiseptic oral rinse and a prescription for antibiotics.
An avulsed tooth requires immediate attention and your quick action can increase the likelihood of long-term survival. When a tooth is knocked out it’s blood and nerve supply is severed, but it can still reattach to the jawbone if it receives the proper care before you get to the dental office. Some teeth are able to reattach by way of their ligaments, whereas other teeth fuse directly to the bone. A root that is still in development may even be able to successfully continue it’s nerve and blood supply development.
Immediate Treatment (the first 15 minutes)
1. Locate the tooth, but hold it by its crown portion only (the part that you usually see in the mouth). Gently rinse it with water, milk or saline if it has become contaminated with debris, while being careful not to remove or damage any of the delicate tissue fibers that is on it’s root surface. These are the ligaments that will hopefully reattach themselves to the tooth socket.
2. Clean away any dirt or blood that is in the mouth by gently rinsing with water.
3. To help stop the bleeding and to aid in replantation, try to place the tooth back into the socket making sure that it is facing the right way, but don’t force it. Once inserted, apply gentle, sustained pressure with your hand or by biting on a damp piece of fabric if no facecloth or gauze is handy. If this is not possible, there are a few other ways to keep the tooth moist and protected as you make your way to a dentist.
– Place the tooth under the tongue or along the inside cheek area. If it is a child’s injury there is always the possibility that they may swallow the tooth if it is kept in the mouth. You will need to supervise them carefully, but only you can determine if they are old enough to do this.
– Alternatively, you can place a tooth in a clean container or baggie containing some milk, water, saline or saliva.
– There is a product on the market called “Save A Tooth” that can be placed in your emergency kit. It comes with a container that has a special solution in it that is designed to preserve an avulsed for up to 24 hour giving you the precious extra time you may need to get to a dentist.
Once you arrive at the dental office they will give you and your tooth the necessary care and attention. There are no guarantees when it comes to replanting a tooth that has received such an injury, but knowing what to do immediately after the accident can increase your chances of saving the tooth, and in turn, saving you money. The mishandling of the avulsed tooth can significantly increase the failure rate of replantation.
The tooth will eventually require root canal treatment, but the alternative treatment for a lost tooth is replacement with a bridge or implant, so keeping the tooth is the best scenario.
Unfortunately, emergencies can happen at any time of day and finding a dentist that is available may be difficult. We provide our patients with 2 dental emergency telephone numbers so that immediate care is available to them ~ Call (905) 5SMILES (576-4537) after hours.
However, if you are planning a vacation, consider having the names and contact information for any nearby dental offices. Knowing what their in/after office hours and emergency policies are ahead of time may also help save you time and frustration.
Consider adding some of these dental emergency supplies to your home and car’s Emergency Kit so that you will always be prepared:
1. A “Save A Tooth” kit
2. Protective gloves
4. Dental Floss
5. Saline solution
6. Gauze sized 2×2
7. Clean plastic baggie or small container
8. Antimicrobial skin wipes
9. Oil of Cloves (Eugenol)
10. Plastic dental mirror
Accidental are not always preventable, but you can minimize your risk by wearing a sports guard. They can be purchased at pharmacies and sporting goods stores or we can make you custom-fitted sports guard which is more comfortable and fits better for added protection.
At Your Smile Dental Care we are always available to answer your questions because we believe strongly that an educated patient is a better prepared patient. If you have questions or concerns about dental emergencies please do not hesitate to call us at (905) 5SMILES (576-4537)