Long summer days mean more time for swimming, biking and baseball. They also mean more opportunities for scrapes, bruises and dental emergencies. Here’s a list of common dental accidents and what to do if your child becomes victim to a baseball, sidewalk or diving board.
Minor Mouth Injuries: Small cuts or scrapes to the lips, tongue or gums can cause considerable bleeding. To stop bleeding, press or hold the injured area between the fingers with a clean cloth. Applying pressure should control the bleeding within 10 minutes. If the bleeding does not stop, or if there is a large or gaping cut, seek medical attention.
Dislocated or Loose Baby Tooth: A baby tooth that is knocked loose may be left in place or removed, depending on the severity of the injury. A slightly loose tooth can tighten up without treatment. One that is very mobile or interferes with biting should be removed. If a baby tooth is knocked out completely, it should not be placed back into the gums.
Broken Tooth: Little chips can often be smoothed or even left alone. A larger chip may need a filling or crown. A fracture that involves the nerve of a permanent tooth may require a root canal.
Dislocated Permanent Tooth: A permanent tooth that is knocked out should be placed back into the socket quickly. Teeth kept moist and quickly placed back into the socket usually survive. Teeth that are allowed to dry or are replanted after an hour have a very poor prognosis. Because time is imperative, an adult should attempt to replant the tooth. These steps are recommended:
- Handle the tooth carefully by the crown.
- Remove debris by gentle rinsing with water; do not scrub or sterilize.
- Place the tooth back into the socket and keep in place by having the child bite on a clean towel. If this is not possible, the tooth can be transported in a container of the child’s spit or in milk (not water).
- See a dentist immediately.
Loose permanent tooth: A loose permanent tooth also requires emergency treatment. Often the tooth can be returned to its correct position and splinted. A soft diet is advised along with careful oral hygiene.
A dental accident can be traumatizing to both parent and child. It is important to stay calm, control any bleeding, assess the situation, and seek medical or dental help when necessary.
— The Harvey County Oral Health Coalition sponsors the regular "Wisdom about Teeth" column in the Kansan. This month's article was written by Lindsay Pauly, DDS, of the Tippin Dental Group in Newton.