Mouth Injuries by Brian P. Midgette D.D.S.
Autumn is the season when our thoughts turn to outdoor sports and school activities. Now more than ever, people of all ages are participating in outdoor activities on their own or though organized community leagues. Along with this increased interest in recreation comes an increase in the health risks that can be associated with the activities.
The mouth has always been a common site for injuries to occur. It seems as though footballs, basketballs and bicycle handlebars have an odd attraction to the mouth.
Most injuries to the mouth usually heal just fine with a little common –sense first aid. Other injuries can be more serious and may require the attention of a physician or dentist.
Most injuries of the mouth involve the lips and cheeks, resulting in minor bruising and small cuts. If there is no serious bleeding and no injury to the teeth, the application of ice and slight pressure is usually all the first aid that is required.
Sometimes the lips or cheeks are cut more seriously and more profuse bleeding occurs. Usually, once the blood and the debris are gently cleaned off the injury with water, things do not look nearly so bad, and a cool compress can control the situation. If the bleeding does not stop within a few minutes, or the edges of the cut area do not properly reposition themselves, the patient should be taken promptly to an emergency facility for treatment.
Once in a while the teeth are affected in an accident. Varying degrees of tooth injury will require different treatments. An injury resulting in a chipped tooth, where there is no severe pain, looseness or bleeding from within or around the tooth, can be treated with a dental appointment for an examination and a filling within a day or two of the injury.
An injury involving a large piece of tooth being fractured, and resulting in bleeding, a very painful and/or loose tooth, should be treated as quickly as possible by a dentist so that the remaining portion of the tooth can be saved.
Should a tooth be knocked out completely, you should visit your dentist immediately. The tooth should be saved with a minimum of handling. If the tooth is clean and can be properly oriented within the socket, it should be placed back within the socket immediately. If the tooth has debris on it, it should be rinsed off very gently with no scrubbing and should then be placed in the mouth, under the tongue, bathed in saliva. If you feel that the risk of swallowing the tooth is too great this way, it should be placed in a small container of milk and rushed to the dental office. If the tooth is replaced within an hour, its chances of being saved are greatly increased. In any case, it is more important that the tooth not be disturbed; do not remove any of the organic matter from the tooth.
As always, enjoy whatever activity you participate in. The use of common sense and an athletic mouth guard can be of great assistance.