With football season upon us it is an important reminder of what to do if a tooth is knocked out. If there are any more serious injuries such as loss of consciousness these should be attended to first. Only permanent teeth should be treated in this way. If a baby tooth is knocked out it should not be put back in.

The first step is to remain as calm as possible. Sometimes it may be difficult to locate the tooth but it is important that it is found quickly and handled correctly. The tooth should only be handled by the crown- the part that is visible in the mouth. It will often be dirty and should be gently rinsed under cold running water. The tooth should not be scrubbed clean. Time is critical.

The best place for the tooth is for it to be replaced into the socket where it has come from. This should be done very gently and held in place with the patients finger. If this is not possible the tooth should be stored in milk or saline. Some chemists may stock specific solutions that are designed to save teeth however milk is more readily available and more than adequate.

It is important that you see a dentist as soon as possible. A dentist can decide on the best treatment. It may be necessary to take a course of antibiotics and update your tetanus vaccination. Having a tooth knocked is a significant injury but with the correct and prompt action and a bit of luck, the long term prognosis is very good.

Like most aspects of dentistry prevention is always better than the cure. A professionally fitted mouthguard is always your best protection and should always be used- even during training. It is worthwhile thinking about using a mouthguard wherever there is a risk of tooth injury, not just football.

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