Dental Injuries and “knocked out” tooth

As an endodontist (root canal specialist), I get phone calls frequently from general dentists on how to manage dental injuries, mostly involving kids 8-15. When I talk about dental injuries, they range from a small “chip” (crown fracture) to “loose tooth” (luxation), to a complete “knocked out” (Avulsion).

The stories I hear:

“The kid was playing basketball and a friend’s elbow went in his mouth”

“A softball went at her…”

And I remember treating a 10 year old boy twice within one summer. His teeth were injured but weren’t “knocked out”, and he wasn’t having much discomfort (There’s something about kids, many of them don’t seem to experience as severe symptoms as those in adults. So if they had a dental injury, even if they are not complaining about pain, have them see a dentist).

First visit:

Boy: “I ran into a wall”

Me: “You gonna have to tell me how you managed to do that”

Boy: “I was running fast. Then I turned my head to see how close my friends were…”

As he was telling the story, he laughed, while his father and I looked at each other and I shook our heads.

Second visit:

“I dived into the pool”

Of course adults, like Tiger, can encounter dental injuries too. Besides the common reasons such as accidents, fights, fall (especially for elders who struggle with balance), I actually have seen a couple people had their front teeth injured when their babies lifted up their strong little heads and hit the parents in the mouths.

Saving a Knocked out tooth:

Managing dental injuries can be easy or complicated. Many times involving a team work of specialists, especially in the situation of a “knocked out” tooth. To save such a tooth, how it’s managed/stored, and whether it’s placed back in the socket within 30 minutes is essential. If it’s difficult to place the tooth back into the socket, it’s best to store it in either

  1. Save-a-Tooth (BETTER CHOICE, used by sport coaches, school nurses, dentists, emergency responders…)
  2. Cold milk

and RUSH to trained professionals. A lot of times you might need both dental and medical attention, depending on the seriousness of the injury.

If a traumatized tooth doesn’t do well after treatment and requires extraction, we have more options these days than ever before. Dental implants or bridge can be very good replacement options.

There are lots of great information on AAE (American Association of Endodontists) website.