Last week we had the unique experience of having to deal with a very real dental
emergency. A great 17 year old kid with a perfect smile fell off his bicycle and laterally
luxated his two front teeth with an accompanied alveolar fracture. By that I mean, his
two front teeth were displace to his palate due to his upper jaw bone breaking. It was
very gruesome, very stressful for him and the parent, but it was of paramount importance
for him to have come so quickly as he did. He'll likely get to keep his two front teeth
instead of losing them and going through very expensive alternatives to replace them.
The key in these types of traumas, whether teeth completely come out of the mouth, or
are just moved around, is time. The sooner they are placed back where they are supposed
to and splinted into position, the better the prognosis. And if tooth completely comes out of the mouth, place it in milk immediately if you aren't going to try to place it yourself. Parents usually take their kids to hospitals when this type of trauma occurs, and understandably so: they infer that this is a medical emergency that needs to be seen in hospitals, want to check for concussions, want to check for broken bones, ect. But when you go to a hospital for a dental trauma, and nothing else is evidently wrong, like big lacerations or unconsciousness, for example, you are not the priority, and you will not be seen immediately. By the time a dental resident gets around to see you, many hours will have gone by. By that time, prognosis of avulsed or luxated teeth has dropped dramatically, and the likely hood of saving them is very
small. If, on the other hand, these traumas are seen within the hour, which is what a
dental office should be able to accommodate, prognosis is increased.
Our patients mother had the good instinct of calling us first. We were able to see him
immediately, we relocated the broken jaw bone, and sent him to the appropriate specialist
afterwards. Please call your dentist first before going to a hospital if you or a loved one
hits their teeth. It might save you a lot of trouble later.
Dr. Lopez and Dr. Gely