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dental injuries

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Alternative Names 
lost tooth or teeth, broken tooth or teeth, avulsed tooth or teeth

Dental accidents can happen to anyone at anytime. In an active world where many individuals enjoy sports activities, there is a risk of damaging the teeth.

Any injury to a child's tooth or teeth is a serious matter. In a child, the injury can affect baby or permanent teeth. An injury to a child's teeth can lead to infection and may damage the developing permanent tooth bud. A dental accident should be treated as an emergency.

What are the signs and symptoms of the injury? 
  • tooth knocked into the socket
  • tooth knocked out of the socket
  • tooth broken off
  • bleeding from the socket
  • bleeding from the traumatised gum or lips
  • pain and swelling of the gum or lip
  • traumatic injury to other parts of the face

What can be done to prevent the injury? 
Many sports injuries can be prevented by wearing a mouth guard. The best mouth guards are custom-made by a healthcare professional. Mouth guard kits available from sporting good stores can also help prevent dental injuries.

How is the injury recognised? 
Clean the injured area, removing blood and debris, in order to clearly see the injury. Use only clean, clear water.

What are the treatments for the injury? 
  • Give first aid as needed. Get help, if possible.
  • Clean the area and determine the extent of the injury while calming the injured individual.
  • Try to find the tooth if it has been knocked out.
  • Rinse the tooth lightly with plain tap water and avoid touching or scraping the root surface. Touch the tooth on the biting edge only. In general, the less the root is touched, the better the chance the tooth can be saved and put back into the mouth.
  • Try to place the tooth back into the socket. If this is not possible, place the tooth in saliva from the patient's mouth or from your mouth. Milk or a warm salt-water solution, with 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a full cup of warm water, can serve as a substitute for saliva. Contact lens solution will also work if it is on hand.
  • If bleeding continues, place a cool rag over the injured area and use mild pressure to stop the bleeding.
  • Get the injured individual to a dentist, an emergency room or doctor as soon as possible. If the tooth is to be replanted, time is very important.

What happens after treatment for the injury? 
The doctor will make further recommendations for follow-up care.

Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne

Last Updated: 2/2/2005
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.

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