Dental Emergencies on the Sport Field, and What to do?

Tips on how to handle sports related dental emergencies.

Summer is a busy time for many families, and then school starts again, and parents remember how busy they were before summer break. Back-to-school not only signals new schedules and homework but often after school sports programs as well. While not mandated by law, the best youth sports health and safety practices require that schools, and youth sports organizations have an emergency action plan (EAP) in place to protect the safety of athletes, spectators, coaches, and officials in case of an emergency. As a parent, it is comforting to know that plans are in place to safeguard during games, but what about during practices? San Francisco Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD has focused his lengthy dental career mostly on adult patients, but that hasn't stopped many frantic parents from calling him and asking for dental advice after a child gets injured playing sports. Dr. Loev recommends that all children see a Pedodontist (pediatric dentist) starting at or before age 2. These specialty offices create a fun, kid-friendly experience so that children graduate from their care with a positive view of dental healthcare. That said, being prepared for a medical or dental emergency at all sports games and practices is very important. Most coaches have a pre-packed coach's first-aid kid on hand at all times, but what should you do in case of a sports-related dental emergency?

Dental Injuries In Sports: Emergency Treatment

1.     Knocked out tooth:

a.     Avoid additional trauma to the tooth while handling. Avoid handling the tooth by the root, scrubbing or attempting to sterilize the tooth 

                                                   i. If debris is on a tooth, gently rinse with water.

b.     Attempt to re-implant the tooth and stabilize by having the athlete bite down gently on the towel, handkerchief or gauze that is generally included in the coach's kit. Do ONLY if the athlete is alert and conscious and old enough not to swallow the tooth.

c. Unable to re-implant the tooth:

                                                   i. Best option: Place the tooth in "Save-a-tooth" saline solution. Not usually present in a coach's first aid kit might consider including along with some zip-lock bags in your parents' first aid kit.

                                                  ii. 2nd best: Place the tooth in milk.

                                                 iii. 3rd best: Wrap tooth in saline-soaked gauze.

                                                 iv. 4th best: Place tooth under the athlete's tongue. Do this ONLY if an athlete is conscious and alert or is young and might swallow.

                                                  v. 5th best: Place the tooth in a cup of water

d.     Get to the dentist as soon as possible. Time is critical. If a tooth can be re-implanted within 30 minutes, it has the highest degree of success reintegrating. A child that is comfortable with his/her dentist can make this process quicker and easier.

2.     Tooth still mostly in the socket but twisted, in the wrong position or hanging down:

a. Reposition the tooth in the socket using firm finger pressure.

b. Stabilize by having the athlete bite down gently on the towel, handkerchief or gauze

c. See a dentist ASAP 

3. Tooth pushed back or pulled forward:

a. Try repositioning tooth

b. Tooth and mouth might be too sensitive to move without anesthetic if so do nothing on-site.

c. See a dentist ASAP

4. Tooth pushed into gum tissue:

a. See a dentist ASAP, do not attempt to pull or reposition tooth.

5. Fractured tooth:

a. If a tooth is broken in half, save the broken portion and bring to the dental office as described in the "unable to re-implant" section above.

b. Stabilize remaining part of the tooth in the mouth by gently biting on towel, handkerchief or gauze to control bleeding.

c. Extreme pain is not unusual in this case. If present, limit contact with other teeth, air, or tongue. The nerve may be exposed, which is extremely painful.

d. See a dentist ASAP and bring tooth fragments. 

Many reports show that the majority of oral injuries occur in such popular youth sports as baseball, basketball, soccer, field hockey, softball, and gymnastics. One study, in particular, showed roughly three times as many young athlete mouth injuries occur on the basketball court as on the football field. Hmmm…, I wonder, says Dr. Loev if this has to do with the fact that they are required to wear mouth guards in youth Football but not in youth Basketball? In a dentist's perfect world, all athletes would wear a mouthguard when playing sports. It can genuinely make a huge difference between injury and non-injury bumps and falls.


Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD has been practicing dentistry in his Downtown San Francisco dental office for four decades. He has surrounded himself with an amazing team of individuals who are committed to patient care and service. Call them today at 415-392-2072 or make an appointment online to set-up a complimentary cosmetic consultation or even just a new patient visit if you are in need/want of a new dentist.

Team Loev Team Loev is comprised of highly dedicated professionals who along with San Francisco Cosmetic, Restorative and Implant Dentist Dr. Edward Loev are committed to educating and hopefully entertaining in-person and virtual patients and making their lives a bit healthier and brighter

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