I’ll never forget the call I received at the end of my workday about 8 years ago. I was just finishing up some chart reviews and was the only person left in the practice. I was literally walking out of my door when my cell phone rang. It was a parent who was panicked. I could hear the crying in the background, “We are at a soccer game; my son fell and broke out his front teeth! What do I do?” I brought them in immediately, and without my usual team of assistants and office staff, I set out to help this very distressed family all by myself. After the dad passed out in the operatory and a couple hours of assessment and management for both the father and the son, all was well. But I realized at that point that education and awareness for dental trauma is absolutely necessary.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. As we are all getting into the full swing of summer we are usually more active. If we are playing sports, running, cycling, and lifting weights we should consider a custom athletic guard. Gone are the days of the floppy hunk of rubber that we boil and bite. The athletic mouth guards that we provide are so comfortable that people wearing them often forget that they are even in their mouths. Not to mention that there is significant research that notes that athletic guards improve athletic performance, strength, and endurance.
Okay, great, but what should you do if, like the previously mentioned family, there is trauma without the guard? Do what they did! Here is my recommendation. First make sure that there is no other trauma to head, neck, or brain. If the trauma is more extensive, or if you cannot reach your dentist, then you need to seek emergent care at a hospital. You need to seek the care of your dentist ASAP. If you have tooth trauma and it is completely knocked out/avulsed then it is important that you act quickly because, believe it or not, if it is an adult/secondary tooth, it can often be re- implanted but only if you act quickly. Place or rinse the tooth in a “tooth saving medium” such as save-a-tooth, which you can purchase from your dentist or online, or you can use milk, or in a pinch put it back in your mouth. Do not rinse the tooth off in water. Do not touch the root surface. Now it is a race against the clock to improve the prognosis for re-implantation so get to the dentist ASAP. Once you get to the dentist, they will determine the extent of the damage and advise you regarding continued care. Best wishes and have a safe and fun summer.