Lay and professional knowledge of methods for emergency management of avulsed teeth


Alastair Stokes, Department of Restorative Dentistry, University of Oago School of Dentistry, PO Box 647 Dunedin, New Zealand.


Abstract Proper treatment during the first 30 minutes offers the best prognosis for traumatically avulsed teeth. This study sought to determine both lay people's and dental professionals’ knowledge of and attitude to emergency procedures. A 12-question survey was administered to 5 groups: (a) parents of learner swimmers and (b) coaches of college sports teams (lay); (c) State Dental Nurses, (d) dentists and (e) dental nurse/receptionists (professional). Respondents totalled 184 (a 32, b 86, c 24, d 18, e 24) i.e. 118 lay and 66 professional. Data revealed that group b had the greatest personal experience of avulsed teeth and groups c and e the least. Public hospital accident and emergency services (A & E) were perceived by all groups as most available. 18% of lay groups could not cite an emergency service. Lay people thought first of A & E for management whereas professional groups preferred the victim's own dentist. Most professional people would replant avulsed permanent teeth and about 1/3 would replant deciduous teeth: 1/2 lay people would replant permanent teeth and 1/8 deciduous teeth. Where treatment was not straightforward lay people would seek advice before acting. Half of the lay groups would transport an avulsed tooth dry. All the professionals had had advice on management of avulsed teeth but only 1/4 of the lay groups. This study highlighted the need for educational campaigns aimed at members of the lay public likely to be involved in the emergency management of traumatically avulsed teeth.