Oral Fitness

 ​Prevention and Management of Dental Trauma

Last Updated: June 20, 2023
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Mouth injuries often result in pain, lost time from work for treatment, and facial disfigurement. Tooth loss due to injuries is common among Army Soldiers.

These injuries can be prevented. Army researchers find that​: Mouthguard.jpg

  • Use of mouthguards can reduce dental and orofacial injuries. Any type of mouthguard prevents injuries, as long as the material does not become thinned when it is being fitted.
  • Mouthguards only need to cover the teeth and the gums around the teeth - large, bulky rims covering the entire gum area or roof of the mouth are not necessary.
  • Providing trainees with mouthguards during pugil stick training, M16 with bayonet training, and confidence course training decreased the total number of mouth injuries by 74%. (From a pilot study at Fort Leonard Wood in 1999)

Soldiers can benefit from using mouthguards if they are involved in training activities or contact sports that could result in: head to head contact, falls, tooth clenching, blows to the mouth.

Activities in which mouthguard use is recommended: basketball, football, lacrosse, boxing, martial arts, combat sports, rugby, soccer, handball, water polo, hockey (ice and field), wrestling, gymnastics, skateboarding, acrobatics, baseball, skiing, bicycling, skydiving, horseback riding, softball, field events, squash, surfing, inline skating, volleyball, racquetball, weightlifting, shot-putting.​ 

​​Mouth​ Protec​tion ​Program

​Starting a Mouthguard Program

Before implementing a program, gather information to support resource requests. Talk to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care facility where Soldiers are treated after hours, and the unit's assigned Dental Treatment Facility (DTF). The DTF may be able to provide information on the number of Soldiers with orofacial injuries that they treat each month.

If you need to gather information, record the number and types of orofacial injuries that Soldiers are experiencing for about three months. Once you have collected the information, present it to your Senior Leaders. Once buy-in from Senior Leaders is obtained, start the program.

Evaluating Program Success

After setting up your program, continue collecting injury reports for six months to a year to show how well your program is working.  Sites that have successfully collected orofacial injury information have utilized the following procedures:

  • High-level leadership commitment from both unit commanders and dental service providers.
  • Adaptation of the mouth protection program to the local needs of the target group.
  • Clearly delegated responsibility for coordinating the activities of the mouth protection program.
  • Continuous quality improvement driven by the information that is collected


Steps to Take if a Tooth is Knocked Out

For an Avulsed Tooth (tooth has been knocked out; it contains the whole tooth which is the root and crown):

  • Hold tooth by the crown (the large end/part of the tooth you see when you open the mouth to smile or talk).
  • Do not touch the tooth root.
  • Gently rinse, do not scrub, the root under cool water.
  • If it is an adult (permanent) tooth, try to re-insert root into the tooth socket. NEVER try to re-insert a baby (primary) tooth.
  • If tooth is re-inserted, have the individual bite on a cloth to hold tooth in position until they can get to a dentist's office or emergency department.
  • If tooth cannot be re-inserted, place it in a container of balanced salt solution, milk, patient's saliva, or cool salt water.
  • An emergency tooth preservation kit can be used if available.
  • Take the tooth and go the dentist or emergency room immediately.

For a Fractured Tooth

  • Place any pieces of the tooth in a wet gauze.
  • Place a cold pack or cloth on the injured area if there is swelling or bleeding.
  • Go to the dentist with the wrapped pieces of tooth.

Bitten Tongue or Lip

  • ​Gently clean the area with a wet cloth.
  • Place an ice pack or something cold to area to decrease swelling.
  • Go to the dentist or emergency department if bleeding is severe or will not stop.