Managing Dental Injuries

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Dr. James Tasto | Dental InjuryYou are enjoying a beautiful summer day at your neighbor’s pool with the kids from the neighborhood and some close friends.  Then all of a sudden one of the kids emerges from the water with a bloody lip.  You are wondering not only what happened, but what should you do.

Summer time always sees an increase in dental injuries, even in Carmel Valley.  More kids and adults are active and dental injuries increase.  Almost every activity from surfing, swimming, biking, skateboarding, etc,  can cause some sort of oral trauma.  It is important to be able to access the injury and more importantly, know what to do.  Smart and prudent decisions can make the difference between you or your child losing a permanent tooth or saving it.

For simplicity I will divide dental injuries into 3 catergories.

Avulsions: The entire permanent tooth gets knocked out.

  •  Avoid additional trauma to the tooth.
  •  Do not handle the root at all.
  •  If there is debris on the tooth, rinse gently with water.
  •  If possible, try to re-implant the tooth into the socket and stabilize by biting down gently on a towel.
  •  If unable to reposition the tooth, place in milk, under the patient’s tongue or water.
  •  Call the dentist ASAP.  Re-implantation within 30 minutes has the best prognosis.

Luxations:  The tooth remains in the socket, but in the wrong position. 3 types:

  1. Extruded: Upper tooth hangs down/ lower tooth is raised up. Reposition tooth with firm pressure and gently bite down on a towel and transport to the dentist ASAP.
  2. Lateral Displacement: Tooth pushed back or pulled forward.  Reposition tooth with firm pressure and gently bite down on a towel and transport to the dentist ASAP.
  3. Intruded: Tooth pushed into the gums, looks shorter.  Do not Move!!! Bring patient into the dentist ASAP.

Fractures: Broken tooth

  • If the tooth is broken in half, save the broken half and transport patient to the dentist ASAP.
  • If the tooth is bleeding from the center, that means the nerve is exposed and pain will follow soon.  Limit contact with the tooth with other teeth, air or water.  Transport patient to the dentist ASAP.

So as you can see, there are many ways that dental trauma can occur and many degrees of the injury. Knowing what to do is vital to saving you or your child’s tooth.  Always have your dentist’s telephone number in your mobile phone.

Our office in Torrey Hills has laminated cards with all of these instructions for you.  Tape them to the inside of your medicine cabinets so that in the unlikely, but possible event of a dental injury, you can act promptly.

Prevention – such as a mouth guard – is also a great idea.

Keep Smiling!


Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Dr. James Tasto

Born and raised in San Diego, Dr. James Tasto attended University of San Diego where he lettered in both golf and wrestling. After earning a Bachelors in Science from Loyola Marymount University, Dr. Tasto graduated from University of Southern California Dental School with an emphasis on cosmetics and sports dentistry.  Dr. James Tasto was selected by his peers to be included in the List of Top Dentists in San Diego for 2007 – 2011.  He appeared in the May issue of San Diego Magazine.  Dr. Tasto is also a member of D.O.C.S. (Doctors Offering Charitable Services), a local organization that offers medical services such as plastic surgery, vision and dental to the less fortunate patients in San Diego.  Dr. Tasto currently resides in San Diego with his lovely wife Traci and their 3 children. He enjoys golf, beach volleyball and playing with his kids.


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