How to Handle Tooth Trauma
Accidents happen, but quick actions can save smiles
ROANOKE, Va. (August 13, 2013) – As children head back to school, it is important to remember that dental emergencies can happen any time, any place. According to the 2013 Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey,1 one out of 10 children ages 10 or 11 have had a tooth emergency such as a knocked-out tooth, chipped tooth or a loosened permanent tooth at home or at school.
“A knocked-out permanent tooth is a true dental emergency, and there’s a good chance it can be saved if you know what to do and act quickly,” said George A. Levicki, DDS, president & CEO, Delta Dental of Virginia.
The primary concern should be getting the child in to see a dentist. Time is critical if you want the dentist to be able to reinsert and salvage the natural tooth. Ideally, a child needs to be seen within 30 minutes of the accident.1
Whether a tooth is knocked out at school or home, here are several steps to ensure it is saved – or at least in optimal condition – by the time the child can see the dentist.
- Keep the child calm.
- Check to make sure the child doesn’t have a serious head, neck or other orofacial injury (i.e., a concussion, broken jaw, etc.).
- Don’t worry about replacing a displaced baby tooth. Trying to reinsert it could damage the permanent tooth coming in behind it.
- Find the tooth and pick it up by the crown (the white part). Avoid touching the root.
- If the tooth is dirty, wash it briefly (10 seconds) under cold running water and reposition it. Try to encourage the patient/parent to replant the tooth. Bite on a handkerchief to hold it in position.
- If this is not possible, place the tooth in a suitable storage medium, e.g. a glass of milk or a special storage media for the displaced tooth if available (e.g. Hanks balanced storage medium or saline). The tooth can also be transported in the mouth, keeping it between the molars and the inside of the cheek. If the patient is very young, he/she could swallow the tooth- therefore it is advisable to get the child to spit in a container and place the tooth in it. Avoid storage in water! 2
- Seek emergency dental treatment immediately.
- If you are a school nurse or your child frequently plays contact sports, purchase an emergency bag handy with a save-a-tooth kit in it (available at most drugstores.) These contain a solution that is better at preserving any live cells on the tooth root until the dentist can put the tooth back into the socket.
“If there is a head, jaw or neck injury, take the child to the emergency room immediately,” Dr. Levicki said. “In most cases, tooth injuries are not life threatening. But they can have long-lasting effects on the child’s appearance and self-confidence, so it is important to act quickly in the event of a dental emergency.”
About Delta Dental of Virginia
Delta Dental of Virginia was created in 1964 as a not-for-profit service corporation. Delta Dental provides employee dental benefits through a variety of managed fee-for-service and PPO plans covering more than 1.8 million enrollees in nearly 3,900 groups. Delta Dental of Virginia is a member company of the Delta Dental Plans Association, the nation’s largest, most experienced dental benefits carrier providing dental coverage to more than 59.5 million people in more than 97,000 groups across the nation. For additional information about Delta Dental of Virginia, visit www.deltadentalva.com. For more oral health information, subscribe to our blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Morpace Inc. conducted the 2013 Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey. Interviews were conducted nationally via the Internet with 926 primary caregivers of children from birth to age 11. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin error is ±3.2 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.
2 Avulsion - First aid for avulsed teeth. Created by Rigshospitalet Denmark and International Association of Dental Traumatology. http://www.dentaltraumaguide.org/permanent_avulsion_treatment.aspx. Accessed July 23, 2013.
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