Here’s a quick little guide to help you through those initial minutes when your child walks up to you with a dental injury:
Knocked Out Tooth
For a Baby Tooth
Control any bleeding by applying pressure to the area. Try to locate the tooth and call the dentist immediately. Do not replant the tooth. The baby tooth should not be replanted because of the potential for subsequent damage to the developing permanent tooth underneath. Bring the knocked out tooth with you to the dentist for examination.
For Adult Teeth
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!! If the child is not suffering from serious head injury, find the knocked out tooth, hold the tooth by the crown (white portion of the tooth) and rinse off the root of the tooth in water if it’s dirty. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If possible, insert the tooth in its socket using gentle pressure. Call the dentist IMMEDIATELY. You can use mild biting pressure using a washcloth or gauze to keep the tooth in place. If the tooth cannot be inserted, put the tooth in the Save-A-Tooth Solution provided to you or in a cup of milk or saline and get to the dentist as quickly as possible. If you are unable to transport the tooth in any of these liquids, it is acceptable to place the tooth in the mouth of the child or the parent, between the cheeks and gums. The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth. Sometimes teeth may appear to be knocked out, but rather their “disappearance” is the result of the tooth being intruded (pushed up) completely within the jaw bone. When the tooth is missing, its presence may only be determined by a professional dental evaluation or with an X-ray. Call the dentist immediately for this assessment.
Other types of Dental Trauma
Bitten Lip or Tongue
Clean the area gently with a cloth and apply cold compresses to reduce any swelling. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, go to a hospital emergency room immediately. It is possible the cut may require stitches.
· Cracked/Broken Tooth
Quick action can save the tooth, prevent infection and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling if the lip also was injured. If you can find the broken tooth fragment, place it in cold milk or water and bring it with you to the dental office. These fragments may be used in restoring the tooth. If the tooth is very loose, do not apply too much pressure. Call your dentist immediately.
· Jaw-Possibly Broken
You need immediate medical attention. A severe head injury can be life-threatening. Keep in mind that an emergency medical team might be able to reach you faster than you can get to the hospital. If you cannot get help quickly, go to your dentist or a hospital emergency department immediately to assess for head/jaw trauma. If there is any question about a neck or spinal injury, DO NOT MOVE PATIENT. CALL 911 FOR HELP.
· Mouth irritation due to orthodontic appliances
Rinse the mouth with warm salt water to relieve any irritation. If possible, cover the offending wire or bracket with orthodontic wax. If the child does not have any wax, place cotton, gauze or chewing gum over the problematic area of the orthodontic appliances