April is National Facial Protection Month
Just like the title says, April is National Facial Protection Month, a campaign supported by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. As we enter into the spring, both adults and children alike will be engaging in and suiting up for an array of outdoor activities. So now is as good a time as any to remind you that it’s important you remember to protect your and your children’s faces and mouths!
Spring often brings a flood of patients suffering with head, mouth and facial injuries resulting from sports-related or outdoor accidents to doctors’ offices and emergency rooms. The good news is, many of these oral and facial injuries can be easily prevented with the use of sports safety equipment like helmets and mouthguards. We certainly encourage you to enjoy the season and the nice weather that comes along with spring, but we also want to ensure that you’re armed with information to help you take the proper precautions to avoid potential injuries.
Types of Facial Injuries & What to Do If a Facial Injury Occurs
Prevention is key, but we know that life can get the best of us and no matter how hard we try, we may not always be able to fend off every potential injury.
Here are some first aid tips to implement as supported by the nation’s top dental associations (including the Academy for Sports Dentistry (ASD), American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), and the American Dental Association (ADA)), if the following types of facial injuries should occur:
Fractured or Broken Tooth
A fractured or broken tooth may also be referred to as a cracked tooth. It is generally defined as a break or a crack in the hard shell of a tooth.
- Locate as many of the broken pieces that you can find and then store in water or milk
- Try to see your dentist within 24 hours; if you require emergency dental services, we will work with you to accommodate and resolve your mouth pain
- A dentist will typically recommend you use analgesics for pain
A tooth displacement is a movement of the tooth with respect to its normal position. This may mean into the bone, partially out of the socket, or in another direction.
- In the case of a displaced tooth, we would recommend you contact and see your dentist as soon as possible
- If the tooth is extruded, or hanging down, you can gently try to reposition it if you feel comfortable enough trying to do that; though do not force this process
Knocked Out Tooth
This is exactly what it sounds like; a knocked out tooth is when your tooth becomes dislodged from your mouth.
- In the instance of a knocked out tooth, you’ll want to contact and see your dentist immediately, as time is of the essence
- Upon locating the tooth, you should hold it by the crown (the wide part, not the pointed end/root)
- Rinse the tooth, but avoid rubbing it or touching the root
- Slowly and gently try to put the tooth back in its socket and then cover the area with gauze or tissue and bite down to stabilize it
- Another option is to briefly store the tooth in cold milk.
- You could also spit in a cup and place the tooth in the cup; the goal is not to let the tooth dry out
- A tooth can usually be saved if cared for properly and reimplanted within an hour; if you need a tooth replacement, we will educate you about your options
Cuts Inside of the Mouth
Unfortunately, it can be quite easy to get a cut in your mouth. Oral injuries can accidentally happen during regular daily activities, including: playing sports, doing yard work, accidentally biting your cheek while chewing, falling down, and even chewing on a writing utensil.
- Upon identifying a cut in your mouth, you’ll want to gently rinse your mouth with cold water
- Bite on some gauze, a clean cloth or tissue and apply pressure to the wound
- If serious enough, go to the closest hospital emergency department for immediate professional medical treatment
The U-shaped lower jaw often suffers multiple breaks; an upper jaw fracture may cause visible distortion of the face. A jaw injury may also cause temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).
If your teeth fit together properly when the mouth is closed, then:
- Apply ice to control swelling and take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen or a similar remedy to help manage and control pain
- Restrict your diet to soft foods; if no improvement occurs within 24 hours, contact your dentist
If your teeth do NOT fit together properly when the mouth is closed, then:
- Immediately seek emergency dental care
- Gently align the jaws
- Immobilize the jaw; wrap a cloth bandage under the chin and secure it over the head
- Apply ice to control swelling
Facial injuries are not to be taken lightly and often require immediate care. In any of these situations, we want you to know that you can – and should! – contact us with questions, concerns or advice on how to handle your facial injury in the short-term as well as what to do next.
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