Quick action is crucial to saving the life of a tooth. That’s why Delta Dental of Michigan encourages parents to be prepared to act if a tooth becomes injured.
With warm weather comes more outdoor playtime for kids. Between playgrounds, sports and outdoor fun, there’s a good chance thousands of children will suffer accidental tooth injuries this year.
Teeth are remarkably resilient but can be chipped, fractured or broken when quick, strong impact occurs. Dental care advancements make it possible to repair or replace injured teeth, but getting to the dentist as quickly as possible following an emergency is vital.
“Timing is the most important thing to remember when dealing with tooth trauma,” said Dr. Jed Jacobson, chief science officer and senior vice president of Delta Dental of Michigan. “An injured tooth begins to die within 15 to 30 minutes.”
Children under age 15 account for 75 percent of all lost, broken, loosened or chipped teeth, with two-thirds of tooth-related accidents occurring outdoors. Falls are the most common cause, followed by bike accidents and sports injuries.
Delta Dental of Michigan recommends following these steps if a tooth is chipped, broken or knocked-out:
- Be prepared for an emergency by keeping the phone number of your dentist handy.
- If possible, find all parts of the injured tooth and handle it only by the top, trying not to touch the root.
- Do not clean or handle the tooth unnecessarily.
- Reinsert the tooth into the socket, if possible. If not, place it in a cup of milk or water to prevent it from drying out.
- If the injury involves braces or wires, cover sharp or protruding portions with cotton balls, gauze or dental wax. Do not remove any wires stuck into the gums, cheek, or tongue.
- Get to a dentist as quickly as possible.
Protecting teeth from injury isn’t always possible, but having your child wear a mouth guard during sports can dramatically reduce the risk. Mouth guards should be worn regardless of age in any sport where contact to the face is a possibility. Even baby teeth serve an important purpose in the mouth, reserving space necessary for permanent teeth to grow in. Protecting teeth in all stages of growth is important to a child’s oral health.