With time running down on the clock, a parent is proudly watching his or her son sprinting with the football to the end zone, moments away from scoring the game winning touchdown.
Then, as the young athlete takes that last step, he is tackled with a helmet directed into his mouth. He proceeds to fall to the ground while losing a tooth.
One of the biggest fears parents have is having their kiddos getting hurt, like when a child loses a tooth. However, there are ways for parents to prepare themselves in case a child's tooth is knocked out.
For starters, if a child is playing sports, especially contact sports, make sure to purchase him or her a good mouth guard.
Dr. Efrain Plaza, from Lee Dental Care, advised parents to have a dentist make a mouth guard for their son or daughter, rather than purchasing one from the local pharmacy.
"They are customs, they fit perfectly with your teeth," Dr. Plaza said. "Those are the ones that offer the best protection."
There have been times when a mouth guard failed to do its job of protecting a young athlete's teeth. Despite the shock they will experience, parents shouldn't become frantic. The tooth can always be taken to a dentist where the medical professional can put it back in it's socket. But, the parent has a limited amount of time to have the dentist put the tooth back into place.
One of the best practices when a tooth is knocked out of a child's mouth, is for a parent to soak it in milk until arriving at the dentist. Dr. Plaza cited studies that have shown milk has the nutrients to help the cells in a tooth stay alive for as long as possible.
According to the American Association of Endodontists , it's best to see the medical professional within 30 minutes of the tooth being knocked out of the young athlete's mouth. However, it's possible to save a tooth, even if it has been outside the mouth for an hour or more.
It is imperative to be careful with handling the dislodged tooth. To avoid getting bacteria on the tooth's connective tissues, it's important not to touch the root, only the crown. If the child sees the dentist within an hour window, there should be enough cells still alive to move forward with the process of reattaching the tooth.
“The process is just put in the tooth, perfectly like it was, then we have to stent it," Dr. Plaza said. "That means we have to use the teeth next to it as support so we have to put a wire on the back of it that attaches to neighboring teeth so this tooth doesn’t move.”
For parents who misplace the tooth altogether, a dental implant is one of the next best options moving forward.