How to help in a sports dental emergency
Every day, across Australia, millions of kids play sports. Each one of these sports has potential risks and dangers.
For example, sports activities are played on different surfaces, and a range of surroundings and environments. Weather conditions such as extreme heat, UV, cold, wind and rain can also impact on playing conditions. The nature of the sport and the conduct of the participating players are also potential factors that can increase the risk of injury.
In Australia, contact sports are increasing in popularity. Sport is part of our cultural identity. Our children are being encouraged to become involved more and more, at younger and younger ages. As a result, dental mouthguards have emerged as the most popular and effective type of protective equipment to prevent oral injuries during play.
But even with the right education in sports safety and accident prevention for kids, teachers and parents, and the use of protective equipment – sports injuries still occur. And oral injuries rate as the most common form of facial injury sustained by our young players in contact sports.
In the event of oral injury or trauma, you have to shift into injury management mode.
Injuries to the teeth or mouth can knock out teeth, obstruct airways or induce swelling. So always check for signs and symptoms of bleeding, pain, broken or knocked-out teeth and swelling, before administering the following basic first aid procedures.
- Assess the injury. Make sure the airways are clear. Place and support the patient in a recovery position to avoid further bleeding down into the throat, and obstruction of the airways.
- Control any heavy bleeding. Apply firm pressure to the bleeding wound, such as a tooth socket, with a clean folded tissue or sterile dressing for about ten minutes.
- Save knocked-out teeth or tooth fragments. Clean a knocked-out tooth with milk or the patient’s own saliva. Have the patient keep the tooth in place with a gentle bite over a folded tissue covering it, or use their finger. If the tooth is broken and cannot be reinserted, keep it in a half a cup of milk or sterile saline solution, wrapped in plastic.
Now it’s time to seek emergency dental or medical attention promptly.
See a dentist for tooth or jaw related injuries. If the patient is fully conscious, they may be transported in a private car.
See a doctor, for heavy bleeding or swelling of the mouth, face or throat.
Call an ambulance (000) immediately, if continuous bleeding or swelling, puts the airways of the patient at risk.
If you are the first aider in a dental emergency situation, it is vital that you respond, assess and take action. The correct first aid may save a child’s tooth.