As you probably already know, competitive cheerleading is the most dangerous sport for females. Today's cheerleaders are thrown high in the air, perform complicated tumbling routines and lift and catch other team members. So it's not unusual for a flying elbow or errant foot of a flier to smash out a base cheerleader's teeth or break a nose. In fact, according to the New York Times, the number of emergency room visits involving injured cheerleaders has more than doubled since the early 1990s. If your child has his or her teeth knocked out while practicing or performing a cheerleading routine, there are some very important steps you need to take.
Locate the Tooth
It's important that every cheerleading coach and gym should know the basics of how to handle a permanent tooth that has been knocked out. It could make the difference between saving that tooth and permanently losing it. Speak with your child's coach to see if they have been taught the basics of handling a knocked-out tooth, and if they haven't, you should consider printing out the following information:
- Never pick a knocked-out tooth by the root. The tooth should only be handled by the crown.
- Rinse off the tooth gently. Do not scrub or use any cleaners on it.
- Do not place the tooth in tissue or fabric.
Transporting the Tooth
In April 2013, a cheerleader was knocked unconscious and lost several teeth after being struck in the face by a flier's elbow during a competition. Upon regaining consciousness, she opted to continue competing. While this sounds very brave of the cheerleader, it could have also cost her those teeth. For the best chances of saving a knocked-out tooth, your child should get emergency dental care within 30 minutes to an hour after an accident.
- If your child is older and calm, try reinserting the tooth into the socket and then placing gauze on top of it. Then ask your child to gently bite down to keep the tooth in place while you take them to the dentist.
- If your child is young and you're afraid they may swallow the tooth or is hysterical, you will be better off placing the tooth in a small cup. If milk is available, use that to keep the tooth moist. If not, ask your child to spit on the tooth.
- If your child has only had a baby tooth knocked out, you should still see a dentist to make sure that there wasn't damage done to any of the other teeth. While your dentist will not reinsert a baby tooth, they may want to see it, so bring it with you if you can find it.
At the Dentist's Office
The dentist will, first, try to save the tooth by splinting it in place for several days or as long as necessary. If, however, the tooth is splintered or too broken to reinsert, your child may need to get a crown. And if your dentist determines that the soft tissue inside the tooth -- the pulp -- is damaged, your child may also need to get a root canal.
- Your dentist will want to check the teeth that were next to the one that was knocked out. It's possible that some of those are also loose. If there is a lot of damage, your dentist may recommend that your child get braces to stabilize them.
- Your child may be given medication for the pain.
After a painful accident like this, it is important to be understanding of your child's fears as it may take them some time to get back onto the mat. Don't rush them or allow a coach to push them back into the gym before they are mentally ready to try cheering again.