We are just a few weeks away from summer and with the warmer weather comes more time outside and more sports activities in the outdoors. “Whether it be biking, running, or contact sports, that means more chances for injuries and that includes your teeth,” said Dr. Tony Thomas, lead dentist at Advanced Smile Care in North San Antonio.
If you’ve never had a tooth emergency or a knocked out tooth would you know what to do? Here are five tips to help you in the event of a dental emergency.
#1 What to do if you are bleeding
Odds are if your tooth gets knocked out there will be blood. If you see blood, do not panic. The Oral Health Foundation says find a clean paper towel, napkin, or handkerchief and fold it up, hold it over the socket and bite down in order to stop the bleeding. “Do your best to apply pressure by clenching your jaws together,” said Dr. Thomas. It is okay to take medication for the pain, but make sure the pain killer does not include aspirin, because aspirin can actually exacerbate your bleeding.
#2 Handling the tooth after a sport accident
If a tooth is knocked out completely, it becomes severed from the socket because the ligament attaching it is destroyed. According to Colgate, in order for a tooth to survive it needs all of the nerve fibers to remain attached. “Make sure you pick up the tooth from the top, or the crown, and not the root. TLC should ensure less damage to the tooth,” said Dr. Thomas. Gently wipe off any dirt from the tooth and try to set it back into the socket or hold it between your cheek and gums. Your saliva will help keep the tooth alive.
#3 Act quickly
The speed at which you seek emergency help from your dentist will be a prime factor when it comes to the survival of the tooth. “If you can get your tooth back into the socket within about five minutes, there is a decent chance that your tooth will survive,” said Dr. Thomas. The Cleveland Clinic says if the tooth is stored properly for up to 60 minutes there is still a good survival rate. But if the tooth has been out of the mouth for more than an hour the chance for survival decreases significantly.
#4 Store the tooth properly and keep it moist
Until you get to the dentist for the emergency procedure, the tooth must be kept moist at all times . The American Association of Endodontists says if you can’t replace the tooth in the socket you should put it between your gums and your teeth or in a glass of milk. There are also emergency tooth preservation kits, such as Save-a-Tooth, that you may want to have on you at all times when engaging in sporting activities just in case something like this were to happen. Be sure that you do not put the tooth in regular tap water, because the water can erode the root’s surface and render the tooth unsalvageable.
#4 Protect your teeth
If you are engaging in physical activity where it is possible to break a tooth or knock out a tooth, we strongly ask you to consider a mouthguard. “Over-the-counter mouthguards are better than nothing, but we prefer a mouthguard made by your dentist,” said Dr. Thomas. Your dentists takes a mold impression of your teeth which would be used to make the mouthguard. You can also purchase a mouthguard known as “Boil and Bite,” where hot water is used to mold the mouthguard. However, those mouthguards don’t fit as snugly as those created by a dentist and don’t provide as much protection.
Bottom line, precautionary behavior is critical to protect your teeth. But if you happen to knock out a tooth, act quickly and don’t panic . If you get to a dentist within an hour of the accident, there is a chance your tooth can be saved