The California Dental Association (CDA) has provided a number of tips for patients to avoid the oral injuries and dental emergencies often associated with summer recreational sports and 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 by wearing a mouth guard,” said Lindsey Robinson, DDS, a pediatric dentist and president-elect of the CDA. “To avoid other oral injuries, like a cracked tooth, refrain from chewing ice, popcorn kernels, and hard candy.”
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 immediately call your dentist for an emergency appointment. Carefully pick up the tooth by its crown and immerse in milk or a special media called Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution. Do not attempt to replace the tooth into the socket — this could cause further damage. If milk or solution is not available, 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 a knocked-out tooth. Often if it’s within half an hour of the injury, it may be possible to re-implant the tooth,” said Robinson.
Minor fractures can be smoothed by a dentist, restored with a composite restoration, or simply left alone. Regardless, a fractured tooth should be treated with care for several days.
If a tooth is broken, treatment will depend on the severity of the fracture, but the mouth should be rinsed with warm water to clean the area and a cold compress should be applied to reduce any swelling.
For injuries to the soft tissues of the mouth, like tears, puncture wounds, and lacerations to the cheek, lips or tongue, the CDA suggests cleaning the wound right away and visiting an emergency room for necessary suturing or repair. Bleeding from a tongue laceration can be reduced by pulling the tongue forward and using gauze to place pressure on the wounded area.