BY DR. SHOHREH SHARIF
Dr. Shohreh Sharif
Sports are a great way for children to develop leadership skills, build friendships, and establish a healthy habit of exercise. Unfortunately, sports sometimes come with the risk of injuries. In particular, contact sports in which injuries to the face and teeth are very common. If a sport carries the risk for potential harm to the teeth, we should encourage players to practice good judgement and consider wearing protective equipment such as a mouthguard. If injury to one or several teeth does occur, then there are a few simple guidelines that should be followed. In the case of contact injuries to the mouth this article serves to better inform you on the different types and management.
At Greater Washington Dentistry these sports mouth guards are custom made to assure a comfortable, proper fit for the child athlete’s mouth.
When an injury to a tooth does occur, understanding how to address the situation is step number one in the process. Contact to the head can be dangerous because of the complex nature of nerves and blood vessels closely housed within the area. An important first step in assessing any injury is whether there was a loss of consciousness or not? Nausea, vomiting, and loss of consciousness could be signs of serious injury. If so, immediately seek further medical attention and contact authorized emergency personnel. If not, and the injury was less minor, there are two fundamental issues we should understand. For children – it is important to determine whether or not the affected tooth is a baby tooth or an adult tooth.
Dr. Shohreh Sharif has been practicing dentistry for 25 year. She is:
Assistant Professor, Howard University College of Dentistry
Diplomate, American Board of Pediatric Dentistry
Diplomate, American Orthodontic Society
IAD Top Pediatric Dentist among Leading Physicians of the World
Fellow, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
INJURY TO BABY TEETH
The baby teeth also known as primary teeth have a certain lifespan and then are replaced by adult (permanent) teeth. Parents often wonder if a child’s permanent or primary tooth was injured. Permanent teeth are not usually present before six to seven years of age. If a primary tooth is injured, we want to keep our approach relatively simple depending on the behavior of the child and lifespan of the tooth. It is important to contact your dentist to have a conversation about the treatment options and potential damage to permanent teeth.
The most common type of injury to a baby tooth is the type that causes it to become loose. These can either be left in place or if they interfere with the bite, be removed. An injured tooth that has become very loose is considered a choking hazard. The child has increased risk of swallowing it in its sleep. If a baby tooth falls out, remember, do not try to place it back in the gums. This can increase the risk to the permanent tooth.
INJURY TO PERMANENT TEETH
If the injury is to a permanent tooth the response is more time sensitive; as often the quicker the response the better the chances of successful treatment. A permanent tooth that is knocked out warrants an immediate call to your dentist. At Greater Washington Dentistry we emphasize taking a few key steps will increase the tooths chances of survival.
What to do if my child’s permanent tooth is knocked out?
Studies have shown teeth re-implanted at the site of accident within 30 minutes to an hour have the highest success rate. However, if this is not possible storing the tooth in milk helps increase working time for re-implantation at the dentist office.
When handing the tooth to place back in the
- Grab by the crown not root (chewing edge – if front tooth)
- Remove debris by gently rinsing with saline or tap water (do not scrub)
- Place tooth back in socket
- Keep tooth in place by biting on soft small towel
- See dentist as soon as possible
What Can I Do To Protect My Child’s Teeth During Sport-ing Events?
Unfortunately, accidents do happen but you can be prepared for what comes your way. A soft plastic custom-fitted mouthguard developed by a pediatric dentist will protect your child’s teeth from injuries.