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Following the rules and remembering dental first aid steps can help save your teeth the next time you dive into a swimming pool.
During the summer, swimming pool accidents are the number-one cause of dental emergencies at the office of E. "Mac" Edington, DDS, MAGD, past president of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). "Swimming underwater and quickly coming to the surface causes some children to hit the hard ledge, loosening the front tooth," says Dr. Edington.
Also, running on slippery, slick cement and ceramic pool surfaces sends many children headfirst into the ground, often causing chipped or displaced teeth. "Diving into shallow waters and hitting the bottom pushes the tooth up and can fracture the whole bone," says Dr. Edington.
Follow these simple first aid steps for a tooth that has been either knocked loose or knocked out:
For an avulsed (knocked out) tooth, pick up the tooth by the crown, not by the root – handling the root (the part of the tooth below the gum) may damage the cells necessary for bone reattachment. If the tooth cannot be replaced in its socket on site, do not let the tooth dry out. Place it in a container with a lid and use milk 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.
"Prevention is key, but accidents will happen," says Dr. Edington. "Prepare yourself for any dental emergency."
Pack an emergency dental care kit, including:
Updated: March 2007
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