April is National Facial Protection Month
Thursday, April 9, 2015
April is National Facial Protection Month and it is estimated that up to 75% of sport-related injuries that occur involve the head and neck areas. With the beginning of warmer temperatures comes more sports being played outside, and an increased likelihood of facial injuries.
Injuries to the face and jaw can happen in just about any sport or athletic activity: baseball, softball, cycling and even running can have falls and impacts that cause facial damage.
There are several ways to keep yourself protected. Mouth guards have gained in popularity over the last few years and are the easiest way to protect your teeth and jaw. It is common to see pro athletes wearing them, and this practice has trickled down to weekend warriors and little leaguers too. For youth sports, especially baseball and softball, facemasks attached to helmets for batters and pitchers are available (and mandated in some leagues) to offer protection against being hit in the face.
Some accidents cannot be prevented, so it is important to know what to do if you or someone you know suffers such an injury.
Common injuries and first aid tips include:
- Clean the area around the tooth and apply ice as soon as possible
- Save the tooth if possible and call your dentist immediately
Knocked out tooth
- Rinse the tooth but avoid touching the root
- Put the tooth back in its socket and cover with gauze or tissue; bite down to stabilize it
- Do not let the tooth dry out. Store it in cold milk or salt water until you see your dentist
- See your dentist immediately
- Cover the wound with a clean dressing and apply steady pressure
- Do not remove saturated dressing – apply more dressing and add more pressure
- Go to the nearest hospital or clinic for emergency assistance
- An upper jaw fracture may cause visible distortions of the face
- A lower jaw fracture often has multiple breaks
If teeth fit together properly when the mouth is closed:
- Apply ice to control swelling and take ibuprofen to control pain
- Eat soft foods and if no improvement is seen within 24 hours, seek dental care
If teeth DO NOT fit together properly when the mouth is closed:
- Seek emergency care immediately
- Gently align the jaws and immobilize by wrapping a cloth bandage under the chin and secure over your head
- Apply ice to control swelling.
Following these tips can help lessen the damage of any facial injury and save your smile. If you have suffered any type of injury to the face or jaw, or have questions, see your dentist for a referral to any BayCare Clinic oral and maxillofacial surgeon.