Many people in Australia play and enjoy contact sport, especially children. Football, soccer, basketball, hockey and cricket are all very popular. In these sports, the risk of being hit in the mouth by bats, balls or even body parts is quite high. However, a lot of people who play these sports do not actually wear mouth guards, which places mouths and teeth at risk. Sometimes teeth are knocked out.
Injuries can also occur in other settings: schools, home, the neighbourhood, and other community locations.
This is the first in a series of articles about injuries to the teeth and how to manage them. Of course, many injuries can be avoided by wearing a well-fitted mouthguard: please go to this page to learn more.
How To Take Care Of A Knocked Out Tooth
What should you do if a tooth is knocked out? Here is a plan of action:
- Remain calm– this will help the child to be calm as well.
- Do check for other injuries: if the child has been concussed and is unconscious, this becomes the priority for treatment.
- Locate the tooth as quickly as possible. The best treatment is to re-implant the tooth as soon as possible after injury as this gives the tooth the greatest chance of long-term survival.
It is important to preserve the cells on the root of the tooth, since these must ultimately regenerate and re-create the bond between the tooth and the bony socket into which it will be re-implanted. If the tooth is allowed to dry out, the cells will die. Scrubbing the root or leaving the tooth in water can also kill these precious cells.
- Hold the tooth by its crown, never by its root.
- Only re-implant a clean tooth. Ask the child to gently suck the root clean or rinse the root in fresh milk or sterile saline (from a first aid kit).
- Do not scrub the tooth.
- If the tooth is not clean, do not re-implant it. Keep it moist by storing it in gauze dampened with milk or saline. Alternatively, the child can hold the tooth in their mouth inside their cheek.
- Do not let the tooth root dry out. The cells on the tooth surface will die and reimplantation may not be possible.
- Gently place the tooth back into its socket. If you meet any resistance, do not push! It’s important not to cause further damage to the tooth and socket or structures underneath.
- Keep the tooth firmly in place. An older child will be able to hold the tooth in place with light finger pressure. A younger child may need assistance. If you have some aluminium foil handy, you can mould this over the teeth to create a splint. This will protect the tooth and hold it in place.
- Get the child to a dentist as soon as possible for treatment. Teeth that are re-implanted and stabilised properly by a dentist within thirty minutes have the best chance of survival.
You’ll find all of this information below in a downloadable brochure. We’ve created it especially for Sports Coaches, parents and others who are likely to be first on the scene to a dental injury.
Download Our Guide To Dental First Aid
Click here to download, and please consider sharing this information with others! Ask your coach or team manager to keep it handy as a ready reference.