Emergency Dental Care: Guidelines for Coaches, Teachers and Parents
Nothing can ruin a good game more than an injury; especially if it is your child or children you are caring for or coaching. Dentists often get frantic calls for advice, from parents, teachers and coaches after an injury has occurred. This brief overview and guidelines for what to do if an injury occurs may help if such an incident happens to your child or team member:
The general categories of dental injuries are:
A baby or adult tooth is chipped
A baby or adult tooth is knocked loose
A baby tooth is knocked out
An adult tooth is knocked out
Severe injuries involving head trauma and or significant lip/face trauma
WHAT TO DO
1. Chipped teeth:
The child needs to see his or her dentist within the next few days to restore the tooth, especially if the tooth is sensitive to temperature changes.
2. Loosened teeth:
The child should see a dentist within a few hours. The ligament of the tooth has been damaged and my need splinting.
Long term follow up in necessary. Loosened baby teeth can cause damage to growing adult teeth underneath. Loosened teeth can “die”, turn dark and require further treatment.
3. Baby tooth that is knocked out:
The child should be seen by a dentist as immediately possible. Baby teeth are not re-implanted but the injured site needs to be evaluated and provisions for space maintenance need to be made.
4. Adult tooth knocked out:
Finding the tooth for re-implantation is critical. The child should be taken to a dentist within 30 minutes ideally. Proper handling of the knocked out tooth is crucial. DO NOT attempt to clean or rinse the tooth with any soap or cleaner. Avoid picking up the tooth from the root; touch only the part of the tooth that is usually visible in the mouth. Place the tooth in Toothsaver solution (see instruction sheet), place ice pack (if tolerated) over injured lip area and have the child taken to the dentist.
If Toothsaver solution-emergency kit is not available:
Gently rinse the tooth with in cool water and attempt to place it back into the socket. If unable to place back into the socket, put the tooth into a clean container with milk, saliva or water. If no container is available, and the child can cooperate, place the tooth into the victim’s mouth, to hold in the cheek. The saliva will keep the delicate root ligament tissues alive until it can be re-implanted.
5. Severe injuries involving head trauma and/or facial and lip lacerations should be taken to the emergency room immediately.
A WORD ABOUT PREVENTION
It is best to prevent a dental injury. Contact sports carry a significant risk for dental injuries. Consider recommending sport- mouth guards to children. Mouth guards cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of dental and soft tissue injuries. The best type of mouth guard is the custom fitted type which can be obtained from dentists that are trained. The cost of Custom fitted guards is more that a generic store bought type, but the advantages are well worth it. The total rehabilitation costs for a single tooth lost from an injury is more than 20 times the cost for a preventative custom made guard. Custom guards are comfortable, fit well and can be made in team colors that kids are excited to wear.
If you are a basketball, soccer or hockey coach, (or parent) and are interested in getting an emergency tooth kit, please call. The Toothsaver emergency kit is inexpensive and can save thousands of dollars. Call Dr. Alicia Ramos at her office, for information on the kit or custom athletic guard at 490-5714
-S. Alicia Ramos DDS and dental team