At my practice, summer time is also dental accident time. Falling off playground equipment, getting hit in the face with a bat or balls, chipping teeth on the edge of the pool, skateboarding accidents, trampoline accidents…you name it, we see it. Kids will be kids and accidents will happen, it’s knowing what to do when they happen, that’s important!
While most accidents are preventable, it’s best to know what to do in case of an emergency. I meet a lot of parents who are unsure about what constitutes the need to be seen by a doctor or by a dentist.
Anytime a person, of any age, loses consciousness, he or she should be taken to the emergency room immediately. Any mouth trauma can be dealt with after the patient has been stabilized and the possibility of a concussion has been ruled out.
When To See a Doctor
Facial injuries seem to produce more blood than other types of injuries; which can make it a little more difficult to decide the severity of the injury and whether it calls for the attention of a doctor or a dentist.
I can think of nine instances when immediate medical attention is required, after an accident.
- If the tooth is broken, loose, or missing, even if the tooth was accidentally inhaled or swallowed.
- If there is acute tooth sensitivity to temperature or pressure.
- If there is jaw pain while opening or closing the mouth.
- If there is mouth or facial bleeding that lasts more than ten minutes, even after applying pressure.
- If there is difficulty swallowing or breathing.
- If there is a cut on the lip which extends past the border of the lip or if there is any gaping cut on the face or in the mouth.
- If the child has suffered a puncture wound to the face, mouth, or throat.
- If there is an object stuck in the roof of the mouth, cheek, tongue, or throat.
- If the child is weak, numb, experiences blurred vision, exhibits slurred speech, or develops a high fever.
Milk: It Does a Tooth Good
According to the American Association of Endodontics, in order to preserve the tooth, we need to keep it clean and moist. Use only milk or water in this instance – don’t leave the tooth dirty or try to scrub it with soap or dry it with a tissue or cloth. Remember, you are trying to preserve the roots of the tooth. So, be careful to only touch the crown, or the chewing surface of the tooth when handling it.
Typically, you have about an hour before the damage to a tooth is permanent. Try to find as many of the missing pieces of the tooth as you can and get to a dentist as soon as possible so the tooth can be saved.
I usually tell my patients, and their parents, to keep the tooth in a small cup of milk and bring it to our appointment. I have a 24-hour answering service and there is always a dentist on call. Even if you are traveling, there is a network of trusted dentists across the nation available to you. The on-call dentists are always very knowledgeable and helpful.
I’ve also noticed there is usually an on-call dentist standing by in the emergency room so you don’t have to take your child to the dentist after you’ve spent the day in the ER, for the same injury.
Keep Calm and Carry Supplies
In the event of an accident, a mouth guard might be a parents best friend in preventing in accident from occurring. I would also recommend carrying a little gauze and a small container of vaseline. Gauze to stop the bleeding and vaseline to keep the gums moist.
Above all, it’s important for you stay calm during an emergency. At this moment, your child needs your care and support more than anything else. If you begin to panic, your children will too.
You know the old saying, “It’s all fun and games until…” By far, the best way to handle a Texas sized summer accident is to keep your cool and be prepared for anything.
I do hope your summer is fun-filled and accident free. If it isn’t, I can help! Feel free to call my office anytime.
A Healthy Mouth is a Happy Mouth!