Reportedly, Tiger Woods front tooth was avulsed when a videographer turned and hit him in the mouth. Tiger was in Italy to support his girlfriend Lindsey Vonn when she recorded her 63rd World Cup Race. As a dentist, I can not miss out on this opportunity to educate my followers, so if you find yourself in a similar unfortunate circumstance you will be prepared and know what to do. Accidents can happen at any time to anyone(even celebrities). A misplaced elbow or perhaps videocamera can easily avulse or knock out a tooth. If a permanent tooth is avulsed it is critical that you replant it in the socket as soon as possible. The longer the tooth remains outside the mouth or worse, dry, the poorer the prognosis.
An important disclaimer is regarding primary or baby teeth. When these teeth are knocked out it is NOT advised to replant the tooth as it can cause serious damage to the permanent tooth.
Here is a brief step by step guide if you happen to find yourself or someone around you with an avulsed permanent tooth.
1. Locate the tooth and pick it up by the crown (the white part). Avoid touching the root. Assess that it is entirely intact and clean. If there is any dirt or debris on it the easiest way to remove it is with your own saliva or rinse it briefly under cold water.
2. Place the tooth back in the socket and try to make sure it is seated completely. Often times, slowly biting down will help fully seat the tooth. Bite down on gauze to hold the tooth in position.
If this is not possible, place the tooth in a suitable storage medium, e.g. a glass of milk or a special storage media for avulsed teeth if available (e.g. Hanks balanced storage medium or saline). The tooth can also be transported in the mouth, keeping it between the molars and the inside of the cheek. If the patient is very young, he/she could swallow the tooth- therefore it is advisable to get the patient to spit in a container and place the tooth in it. Avoid storage in water!
3. Contact your dentist and seek emergency dental treatment immediately. This will likely include the placement of a splint to stabilize the tooth and a root canal within 7-10 days of the accident. These are critical to ensure the best long term prognosis for the tooth.
4. Call your primary care physician and confirm your tetanus status. If tetanus coverage is uncertain, you may need a tetanus booster.
For dentists, dental students and health care providers, Dental Trauma Guide is an excellent resource for trauma.
I hope you find this information useful and that you may be able to help someone save their tooth in the future simply by remembering this post.
Have a great week. XOXO -Brittany