Mouth and dental injuries are common accidents that can lead to a dental emergency. These could include injuries to the lips, hard and soft palate, gums, tongue, tonsils, inner cheeks, jaws and teeth. If a tooth is broken, chipped or fractured in some way, try to see your dentist within an hour. If you get to a dentist within an hour, you have the best chance the tooth will be able to be put back successfully. Always CALL FIRST, if you reach the dentist practise and find it closed you will have lost valuable time.
Here is valuable advice to follow in handling dental injuries:
1. In an injury where the jaw may be involved and broken, tie a cloth, which could be a towel, necktie or handkerchief, around the jaw and over the top of the head to minimize and prevent jaw movement. This will keep the fractured bones intact and in place thus minimizing bone dislocation. Immediately seek medical treatment.
2. It is very important to know how to preserve a knocked out tooth in an event that a tooth is knocked out from its socket usually during child's play, sports or even at work. It is comforting to know that a knocked out tooth can still be re-implanted into the dental socket as long as proper procedures are followed in order to preserve the tooth right after being knocked out. The tooth should be rinsed in water by holding it at its crown or top portion. Be careful not remove any tissue fragments from the tooth. Place the tooth in tap water or milk and immediately go to the dentist for re-implantation. A successful dental re-implantation is expected if the tooth is returned back to the dental socket within one hour.
3. In accidental cases where the tooth chips or breaks, it is imperative that the dentist examines the extent of the damage. The dental damage may seem minor but it can be the cause of tooth or gum infection especially if pain is present. Immediately call your dentist and inform him about the accident. It will then be upon his discretion if whether or not you require immediate attention or just a scheduled dental appointment.
4. When an injury bleeds it is important to control the bleeding right away. To control bleeding of the teeth apply pressure to tooth or dental socket by biting on a cloth or dressing placed on the tooth or socket.
5. For injuries of the gums, lips and tongue, apply direct pressure to the wound with a moist cloth or gauze. It is important to determine whether an injury requires some stitches. Stitches are done by a health professional in order to minimize infection and in some instances for cosmetic reason. The following cases definitely need to be stitched:
a. In cases where there are deep, lacerated wounds.
b. When the injury continues to bleed after 15 minutes of direct pressure.
c. When a scar is likely to develop.
Can you prevent dental injuries?
Most of the time dental damage can be prevented by wearing a good mouthguard while practising sports, providing protection to your teeth and jaws. A mouthguard can't always prevent damage totally, but in most cases it can dramatically diminish the extent of the damage.
Opposing what many people think, not all mouthguards are the same. The best mouth protection is obtained with a custom made mouthguard as recommended by experts (see Gumshields press page). Ready made and boil and bite mouthguards
are not made to your mouth, do not fit exactly and therefore provide less protection.