Injuries to children’s teeth are very distressing for children and their parents. Dental trauma may occur as a result of a sports mishap, an altercation, a fall, or other causes. Prompt treatment is essential for the long-term health of an injured tooth. Obtaining dental care within 15-30 minutes can make the difference between saving and losing a tooth.
Approximately 30% of children have experienced dental injuries to the mouth; teeth that are knocked out, fractured teeth, teeth forced out of position or loosened. Root fracture and dental bone fractures can also occur.
The peak period for trauma to the primary teeth is 18-40 months of age, as this is a time of increased mobility for the relatively uncoordinated toddler. Injuries to primary teeth usually result from falls and collisions as the child learns to walk and run.
With permanent teeth, school-aged boys suffer trauma almost twice as frequently as girls. Sports accidents and fights are the most common cause of dental trauma in teenagers. The upper central incisors are the most commonly injured teeth. Maxillary (upper) teeth which protrude (stick out) more than normal are 2-3 times more likely to suffer trauma than normally aligned teeth.
If your child has a TOOTHACHE:
Call our office to schedule an emergency appointment. If after hours, clean the area around the affected tooth. Rinse the mouth thoroughly with warm water or use dental floss to dislodge any food that may be impacted in the area. Offer a pain reliever such as Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen. If the pain continues, contact our office. We offer emergency visits “after hours” for patients of record. Do not place aspirin or heat on the gums or the aching tooth. If the face is swollen, apply cold compresses and contact our office immediately.
If your child has a CUT or BITTEN TONGUE, LIP or CHEEK:
Apply ice to the injured area to help control any swelling. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure to the area with a gauze or cloth. If bleeding cannot be controlled by simple pressure, call our office, or our after-hours phone line, or visit a hospital emergency room.
If your child has a CHIPPED or FRACTURED A TOOTH:
Contact our office. A chipped or fractured tooth creates a possibility for exposure to the nerve of the tooth. The sooner treatment is done, the less likely the need for a root canal.
If your child has KNOCKED OUT A PERMANENT TOOTH:
If possible, find the tooth. Handle it by the crown, not the root. Do not clean the tooth with soap, scrub it or handle it unnecessarily. Inspect the tooth for fractures. If it is intact, try to reinsert it into the socket. Have the child hold the tooth in place by biting on gauze. Reinsertion within the first 15 minutes results in the highest success rate of saving the tooth.
If you cannot reinsert the tooth, transport the tooth in a cup of cold milk, If the patient is old enough and milk is unavailable, the tooth may also be carried in the patient’s mouth (besides the cheek.) The patient must be seen IMMEDIATELY. Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth.
If your child has a POSSIBLE BROKEN OR FRACTURED JAW:
Keep the jaw from moving and take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room.
If your child has a SEVERE BLOW TO THE HEAD OR FACE:
Take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately. Do not let your child go to sleep!