Oscar is a gregarious, healthy 9-year-old boy who loves baseball. He is the star first baseman on his North Long Beach Little League team. Like many boys his age, he has an easy, big smile with protruding upper front teeth. The cloudy 2nd Saturday in May would, unfortunately, be one Oscar would never forget.
Oscar was at “Opening Day” of Little League Baseball. He was waiting for his turn “on deck” when his teammate swung and missed a pitch, losing control of the bat. The bat went flying through the air, striking Oscar in the face. Oscar was wearing a helmet but not a mouth guard and the blow knocked out his upper right front tooth. After much panic, confusion and shock, Oscar’s tooth was located by a spectator who knew what to do: he bought some milk from the refreshment stand and, picking up the tooth carefully from the enamel/crown area (not the root), placed it in the carton of milk for transport.
One of our pediatric dental residents received the emergency call and met Oscar at the Children’s Dental Health Clinic. After easing Oscar’s (and his parent’s) concerns, our dentist re-implanted Oscar’s front tooth and placed a thin, clear splint to hold the avulsed (knocked out) tooth in place. Oscar’s prognosis was good as the surrounding bone or tooth root was not fractured. Our resident explained that there was a 50/50 chance that the tooth may still need a root canal in the future if it necrosed (did not remain vital/alive).
Oscar returned to the Clinic the following week for further evaluation of his tooth and healing progress. He reacted normally to testing and had returned to his usual (somewhat sugar-rich) eating habits. One month later his examination revealed no necrosis and almost complete healing of the surrounding tissues. The splint was removed and, to date, Oscar’s front tooth remains vital and fully functional.
Oscar’s tooth is one of the countless “saves” that happen regularly here at the CDHC. To the many dedicated professionals that work and volunteer at the CDHC, saving a knocked out tooth is almost routine. To Oscar, it meant the difference between a tentative, self-conscious grin and his big, restored tooth-filled smile.
For more information on how to handle a knocked out tooth please click on the following link: http://www.aae.org/patients/symptoms/knocked-out-teeth.aspx