Be prepared: how to handle dental trauma in childrenJanuary 27, 2021 3:52 pm
Thinking about dental injuries is bad enough as an adult, but when it comes to our children, the idea becomes even worse! We all want the best for our children and injury or pain is very difficult to think about. However, accidents can happen, and it’s best to be prepared, so you are able to react to events in the most sensible way.
What is a child’s dental trauma?
Dental trauma basically means any physical injury to the teeth, gums, tongue, or any other part of the mouth. This can include a tooth that is chipped, fractured, knocked loose or back into the gum, or even knocked out. In more serious cases the jaw could be fractured. Or, on the other end of the scale, your child could experience cut lips or gums. Dental trauma
accounts for an estimated 5% of all injuries for children – quite a lot!
What are the causes?
Usually it’s caused by an accident – children playing sport, falling, fighting in the playground, or perhaps another cause such as a car crash. One common cause is falling or colliding with furniture in the home – so, it’s important to ‘childproof’ your house when they are learning to walk, between the ages of one and three years.
Which teeth are usually traumatized?
Often the central incisors – the teeth at the front of the mouth – are those receiving the damage. In children with baby teeth, the tooth is more commonly knocked out of place, but with adult teeth for older children, fractures are more common. This may be because older children will be doing different activities, so the injury might come from a sports blow, riding a bike, or a or an accident, rather than a fall in the home.
What are the types of children’s dental trauma?
Diagnosis will be the same however old your child is, but treatment might differ depending on how old they are. The pediatric dentist will always do their best to keep adult teeth in place. So, if an adult tooth has been chipped or knocked out, then it’s a dental emergency just the same as for an adult. If the tooth is loose, then the dentist may use a split to try and help the tooth heal back into the right place. A broken tooth will be repaired or, where possible, reattached.
If your child has just their baby teeth, then the priority is to help the adult set develop in the right way – so, if a baby tooth has been knocked out, it won’t be put back in place. However, a baby tooth that’s just loose can usually be left there, so long as it’s not a choking hazard, as it will heal itself.
If a baby tooth is broken, then the dentist will check if there is any damage to nerves or blood vessels. If there isn’t, then they may just smooth the surface so your child can carry on with day-to-day activities. Cuts may need stitches, but usually only if they are large – small ones will heal by themselves.
In any case – it is very important to get professional medical help so your child isn’t left with permanent injury or scarring. While most dental injuries won’t be life-threatening, there is a small risk of complications developing – and a bigger risk of your child’s self-confidence being affected if the damage is very noticeable.
How to avoid injury
A kids’ dental specialist would always recommend a mouthguard for sports, to avoid damage in the first place! It’s also a good idea for children to wear helmets for contact sports, and for smaller children doing activities like learning how to ride a bike.
What to do in case of emergencies
If your child sustains a dental injury then it’s important to see a kids’ dental specialist as soon as possible. Get an appointment with an emergency pediatric dentist such as at Drs. Nicolas & Asp, which has a 24-hour emergency phone line, with dentists available around the clock.
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