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Sports injuries involving teeth are widespread, especially among children playing contact sports. When your child is active, any game from touch football to basketball can quickly become a contact sport, even if a parent or a coach is supervising the activity. It takes a relatively small amount of force for a child to lose a tooth, so knowing the steps you should consider before it happens will help if the situation ever does arise.
Find and Save the Tooth
Losing a permanent tooth doesn’t have to be a permanent injury. There is a chance that acting promptly can help a dentist save the tooth. Timing in these situations is critical. Finding the tooth is the first step, and keeping that tooth preserved until you can get to the dentist is the next step. Most drugstores sell kits that hold the tooth away from air and any contaminants. If your child is involved in contact sports, keeping one of these kits handy in their gym bag is a great insurance plan in protecting your child and their smile. Regardless of if you have an emergency kit or not, be sure not to wipe or clean the tooth; leave any cleaning to your dental professionals.
Using Ice to Reduce Inflammation
Though over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or a product designed to dampen the pain are ideal, ice also contributes to reducing inflammation when a tooth is lost. Just fill a plastic bag with a handful of ice, and wrap the bag in a soft towel or piece of cloth before applying the wrapped ice bag directly to the skin.
Applying ice will help to:
- Reduce inflammation
- Numb the mouth
- Reduce pain
If the Whole Tooth is Lost
The first thing to do is to stop all activity and find the tooth. Once the tooth has been located, pick it up and cover your hand to minimize the transfer of germs. You will need to get to an emergency dental appointment as soon as possible to save the tooth. The longer you wait, the higher the chance that the mouth can experience infection and permanent tooth loss.
While on the way to the dentist, apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth to minimize any pain and inflammation. Avoid putting any loose ice or other frozen foods, such as popsicles, into the mouth as this could add to any discomfort.
Your dental professional will be able to assess the situation upon arrival and whether the tooth can be saved successfully or not.
If the Tooth is Broken
Finding the broken piece of the tooth is still the first step, just as if you were to lose the tooth entirely. Once any fractured fragments of the tooth have been located, follow the same steps when it comes to picking up the tooth. Although it is less likely, you still want to avoid risking contamination between your hands, airborne germs, and the tooth.
Be sure to not poke at the broken tooth with the tongue or any fingers as edges will likely be sharp and potentially sensitive.
Your dental professional will recommend the best course of action once they can assess the tooth in person. Depending on the age of the child, tooth-colored resin or a crown may be discussed if the trauma to the tooth was relatively minor. If the nerve was affected, then the dentist may do a root canal or remove the tooth all together to reduce the risk of infection.
Getting Fitted With a Sports Mouth Guard
Prevention is a necessary step to reducing harm for children while playing sports. To prevent losing teeth while playing sports, be sure to have your child properly fitted for a mouthguard. The effectiveness of mouthguards lies within their preciseness. A custom-fit mouthguard is so effective because it hugs each tooth closely, and doesn’t allow for unwanted movement. Mouthguards are made of durable, yet breathable material, allowing comfort to those wearing them.
Store-bought mouthguards are only able to form the general shape of the tooth line, whereas professional and custom-made mouthguards are built to specifications of your child’s exact tooth alignment for a better fit and added protection.
Schedule an appointment with Tompkins Dental today, so your child’s custom mouthguard is ready to wear by the first day of practice.