Whether participating in basketball, hockey, football, gymnastics or another sporting event, collisions are a common occurrence. With collisions come the all-too-common misfortune of teeth getting knocked out. Undoubtedly, during the post-collision frenzy, coaches, players, and parents scramble to reduce the effects of the trauma. However, what many people don’t know is that when a tooth is knocked out, that tooth can oftentimes be saved.
Before addressing how to save the tooth, it must be clarified that when you have a tooth knocked out, you have a dental emergency and you absolutely must visit your dentist immediately in order to decrease chances of infection and side effects.
There are, however, a few immediate steps following an emergency can be followed to increase the chances of both saving your tooth and keeping it for years to come.
Step One: Protect the Root
After you have located your tooth, pick it up from the crown of the tooth. The crown is the portion of the tooth that we see in the mouth. You should not touch the root, as damaging the root will guarantee that you will not be able to save the tooth.
Step Two: Clean the Tooth Carefully
If the tooth is dirty you will need to clean it before it goes back into the socket. Do not use anything but water, salt water, or milk to clean the tooth. Do not dry the tooth, keeping in mind to be very mindful of protecting the root.
Step Three: Replace the Tooth Quickly
Once you have cleaned off the tooth carefully, you can gently place the tooth back into the socket of the mouth. Be very gentle as you are placing it. The highest success rate for replacing teeth is seen within 5-10 minutes. However, you can replace it within 30 minutes of the injury and experience success. While the tooth is not in the socket, it must be kept moist and protected. You will have a better chance of being able to save the tooth if you’ll place it in a glass of milk, a glass of salt water, or gently hold it in your mouth next to your cheek.
Step Four: Go to the Dentist Immediately
Your dentist will know the best way to protect your tooth, replace your tooth, prevent infection, and assign the appropriate treatment for the sensitive area. Visit your dentist immediately for consultation.
Dental injuries are painful, but although the circumstances can be traumatic, the solutions are oftentimes immediate, viable, and practical. Following these steps will not guarantee that you’ll be able to save your tooth, but will provide increase your chances of preserving a tooth that has been knocked out during a sports activity.
As always, many mouth injuries can be prevented with proper use of a sports mouth guard. Please use yours.