High School Football Kickoff Signals the Annual Rush of Youth Tooth Losses, says San Antonio Cosmetic Dentist

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High school football kicked off around the country this month, ushering in another year of youth sports, during which 3 million student teeth are expected to be lost, says veteran San Antonio cosmetic dentist Edward Camacho, DDS. The chances of saving a knocked-out tooth dwindle after the first few minutes, which means that parents, coaches and caretakers need to be prepared to provide proper first aid.

San Antonio cosmetic dentist Dr. Edward Camacho, DDS

San Antonio cosmetic dentist Dr. Edward Camacho, DDS

It’s vital that parents understand and guard against (youth sports) risks, and know first-aid procedures that may save a tooth that’s been knocked out.

High school football kicked off around the country this month, ushering in another year of youth sports, during which 3 million student teeth are expected to be lost, says veteran San Antonio cosmetic dentist Edward Camacho, DDS.

“Athletics are an important part of health and social growth,”Dr. Camacho said. “But they provide risks to children’s mouths that can have long-term consequences. It’s vital that parents understand and guard against these risks, and know first-aid procedures that may save a tooth that’s been knocked out.”

According to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, about 3 million teeth will be knocked out as about 30 million youths participate in athletics this year. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General reports that craniofacial injuries account for a full third of all non-fatal sports injuries overall. And it’s not just football, with its violent clashes of pads and helmets.

“Basketball and baseball are the two biggest mouth-injuring sports,” reports Dr. Stephen Mitchell, of the University of Alabama’s Department of Pediatric Dentistry. “And the most common injuries we see are broken, displaced or knocked-out teeth, and broken jaws.”

In part, this is because mouthguards and face-protecting helmets are not required for many sports, as they are in football, hockey and lacrosse. Mitchell recommends custom-fit mouthguards as the most effective insurance against tooth trauma for youth with permanent teeth. For younger children, with baby teeth, he recommends over-the-counter mouthguards that can be heated and molded to the teeth since their dentition is in transition.

About a quarter of dental injuries can still occur with mouthguards in place. Quick first-aid action and dental treatment may save a lost tooth, Dr. Camacho said. And the cost of not acting quickly to save a permanent tooth can be dramatic.

The National Youth Sports Safety Foundation estimates that the cost to treat a lost permanent tooth and provide followup care ranges from $5,000 to $20,000 over a lifetime.

If a tooth is broken or cracked, parents should get the young athlete to the dentist within 24 hours, Dr.Camacho said. But if the tooth is knocked out, there is no time to wait. Action must be taken within minutes to have the best chance to save the tooth. First aid steps include:

  •     Speed – it’s best to perform the first aid within five minutes. By the time the tooth has been in the open air for 60 minutes, the window of opportunity is nearly gone.
  •      Replace the tooth in its socket if at all possible. The best chance of saving the tooth is to get the root back into its natural habitat.
  •     Don’t rub or even touch the root, or try to clean the tooth, which can damage the still-living delicate tissues.
  •      If you have milk, you can rinse the tooth with milk before implanting. But avoid water – it can cause delicate cells to burst. Do not place in or on ice.
  •     If you can’t put the tooth back in the socket, you can have the child carry the tooth in the mouth, inside the gum, if the child is old enough not to swallow it.
  •     If implanting or carrying the tooth in the mouth isn’t possible, carry the tooth in a medium to keep it safely wet, including Hank's Balanced Salt Solution (or HBSS), milk, medical saline or saliva.
  •     Go to the emergency room immediately.

“Taking immediate action to keep the tooth from drying out and carrying it in its natural environment, as much as possible, gives emergency professionals the best chance of saving the tooth,” Dr.Camacho said. The fate of the lost tooth is a long-term proposition, he added, and will require regular monitoring by the dentist to ensure that the tooth is moving toward permanent health.

ABOUT OUR PRACTICE:

Cosmetic Dentistry of San Antonio is a full-service cosmetic dental practice, specializing in Invisalign transparent braces, top-quality dental veneers, teeth whitening and traditional orthodontics, as well as a full line of restorative procedures and preventative care.

16535 Huebner (at Bitters) Suite 102
Valencia Village Shopping Center
San Antonio, Texas 78248
(210) 493-9944

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