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Playgrounds: Site of tooth traumas?

Parents may not realize how hidden dangers of certain summer activities can also affect teeth

School's out and summer is here, attracting swarms of children to flock to outdoor activities. Yet, parents may not realize how hidden dangers of certain summer activities can also affect teeth, reports the Academy of General Dentistry, an organization of general dentists dedicated to continuing dental education.

"In the summer, accidents that cause tooth injuries occur mostly from falling off playground swings, diving into shallow pools, baseball, skateboarding, in-line skating and bicycling," says Lawrence Bailey, DDS, FAGD, spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry.

Most people don't know that:

  • For ages 0-4, playground injuries to the brain and face account for nearly 60 percent of all injuries.
  • Every two-and-a-half minutes, a child is injured on a playground in the United States.
  • Approximately 10 percent of children who participate in sports receive some type of injury to the face.
  • Thirty-six percent of injuries to children are sports related.
  • Five million teeth are knocked out each year.

These accidents mostly cause cracked and fractured teeth and lip lacerations, according to a recent study in General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed journal of the Academy. In addition, high impact collisions can cause broken jaws, and tooth trauma symptoms include sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures.

If you or your child experience a tooth injury this summer, Dr. Bailey recommends the following first aid steps for a loose or knocked out tooth.

If a tooth is displaced (loose), push the tooth back into its original position, bite down so the tooth does not move, call your dentist or visit the emergency room. The dentist may splint the tooth in place to the two healthy teeth next to the loose tooth.
For an avulsed (knocked out) tooth, pick the tooth up by the crown, not by the root -- handling the root may damage the cells necessary for bone re-attachment and hinder the replant. If the tooth can not be replaced in its socket on site, do not let the tooth dry out. Place it in a container with a lid and use low-fat milk, saline solution or saliva. Visit the dentist as soon as possible the longer the tooth is out of the mouth, the less likely the tooth will be able to be saved.