The California Dental Association (CDA)has provided a number of tips for patients to avoid the oral injuriesand dental emergencies often associated with summer recreational sportsand activities.

Popular summer activities, like swimming, baseball, and biking, can increase the potential for injuries to the teeth and mouth.

“These injuries are often painful but can be easily prevented bywearing a mouthguard,” said Lindsey Robinson, DDS, a pediatric dentistand president-elect of the CDA. “To avoid other oral injuries, like acracked tooth, refrain from chewing ice, popcorn kernels, and hardcandy.”

If a dental emergency does occur, the CDA recommends that orthodontists advise patients to keep the following in mind:

If a tooth is knocked out, attempt to find the tooth and immediatelycall your dentist for an emergency appointment. Carefully pick up thetooth by its crown and immerse in milk or a special media called Hank’sBalanced Salt Solution. Do not attempt to replace the tooth into thesocket — this could cause further damage. If milk or solution is notavailable, wrap the tooth in a clean cloth or gauze and place in saliva.

“Getting to the dentist as soon as possible is key to saving aknocked-out tooth. Often if it’s within half an hour of the injury, itmay be possible to re-implant the tooth,” Robinson said.

Minor fractures can be smoothed by a dentist, restored with acomposite restoration, or simply left alone. Regardless, a fracturedtooth should be treated with care for several days.

If a tooth is broken, treatment will depend on the severity of thefracture, but the mouth should be rinsed with warm water to clean thearea and a cold compress should be applied to reduce any swelling.

For injuries to the soft tissues of the mouth, like tears, puncturewounds, and lacerations to the cheek, lips or tongue, the CDA suggestscleaning the wound right away and visiting an emergency department fornecessary suturing or repair. Bleeding from a tongue laceration can bereduced by pulling the tongue forward and using gauze to place pressureon the wounded area.