Sports-related dental injuries: First aid and what to do!
Accidents can happen all too fast when skiing, mountain biking, skateboarding, sledging or playing ball sports. A fall, a blow or a collision with an opponent is sometimes all it takes to knock out or chip an incisor or injure the jaw. Can the tooth be saved and which precautions should you take? Dr. Pink | Dr. Wolferstaetter | Colleagues have put together some important guidelines for how to react in such situations.
Correct first aid is crucial!
In the event of an accident it is important to stay calm. The tissues in the mouth and facial area have
a very good blood supply meaning that injuries can result in heavy bleeding which usually also stops quite quickly. Then follow these steps:
- Examine the injured person for damage to the teeth and jaw. It is important to quickly determine if a tooth has been knocked out.
- If a tooth is missing, find it quickly. In children or where the injured person is unconscious, there is a danger that the tooth could be swallowed or become lodged in the wind pipe – this can be life threatening! In the meantime try to get hold of a tooth rescue box from the closest pharmacy.
- After finding the tooth, proper storage is vital. Every minute counts! If proper precautions are not taken, a lost tooth can dry out within minutes, the root dies and it is impossible to reimplant it.
- Important: the tooth should only be held at the crown, the root surface must not be touched otherwise the root will die immediately.
- Do not clean or disinfect the tooth, hold it under the tongue or put it in water.
- A tooth rescue box is the best option as it contains a special nutrient solution that keeps the tooth alive. Using a tooth rescue box, a tooth can be preserved for 24 to 48 hours before successful reimplantation.
- Sometimes the tooth can be directly pushed back into the cavity (alveolus). This also allows the tooth to receive sufficient nourishment. But it is only possible if the patient is conscious and there is no danger that the tooth will be swallowed. This should not be attempted in children.
- As an alternative temporary solution the tooth can be preserved in UHT milk for a maximum of 1-2 hours, or in an isotonic salt solution for maximum 30 minutes. A plastic bag can also be used for the first few minutes. However, the chance of successful healing is significantly lower with these options.
- Calm and take care of the injured person. Stop the bleeding with a sterile compress. Hold an ice pack to the jaw if necessary.
- In dental injuries consult a dentist or dental clinic immediately or as soon as possible. Teeth can also be traumatised or loosened, which is not immediately obvious, but can lead to long term problems in the jaw.
- Caution with accidents in swimming pools: if a child slips and bumps his/her jaw or tooth on the edge of the pool, the milk teeth might be pushed against the incisors. Consult a dentist as soon as possible.
- In any dental injury see a dentist as soon as possible. Avulsed teeth with intact roots can often be reimplanted. If this is no longer possible, there are various treatment measures depending on the extent of the injury.
- It is also important to visit a dentist for the injury to be properly documented, for example in the case of insurance claims.