Watch your mouth kid! – Dental trauma in children
How many times have you heard this story? A young child goes for a fun day out at the play park. Then it all ends in tears because he whacks into something, teeth first.
I have been called out on many occasions, to pick pieces of teeth out of a child’s lip, splint loose teeth, stem buckets of tears, and explain to a distressed mum the future implications of the dental injury. Everyone’s day is ruined.
Facts and Figures on Dental Trauma
A recent international study of traumatic dental injuries produced staggering figures:
- 235 million people worldwide are currently living with the effects of a traumatic dental injury to their front teeth.
- This is mainly attributed to increased overjet (protruding front teeth).
- Upper front teeth that protrude 3mm or more beyond the lower front teeth are at least two times more likely to be affected.
- For front teeth that protrude more than 9mm, the risk of trauma is 12-fold. Almost inevitable!
There are many reasons why children might develop protruding front teeth, either in their baby teeth, or their adult teeth. A trip to a dentist or Specialist Orthodontist can shed light on the reasons, and can offer accurate advice on preventing traumatic dental injuries to the front teeth, as well as permanently correcting the protruding teeth.
Dental injuries can range from a slight loosening of the tooth, to fractures of the tooth/root, all the way to complete loss of the tooth, and even jaw fractures. It is impossible to cover every scenario in a small article!
But, there are a few basic pieces of information that EVERY mum and dad should be aware of:
If your Child Injures his Teeth:
- If your child loses consciousness in the accident – ignore the rest of this article and get urgent medical help!
- If your child has knocked out a front tooth, and he/she is five years or younger, then the chances are it is a baby tooth. Never try to re-implant baby teeth! Contact a dentist immediately.
- If you are sure that the tooth which has been knocked out is an adult tooth (roots are usually much longer than baby teeth), then locate the tooth, and store it in sterile saline, or a cup of milk, or inside the child’s cheek, until it can be re-implanted. Contact a dentist immediately.
- If the tooth is chipped or badly broken, try to locate the pieces and take the child immediately to a dentist.
In summary, traumatic dental injuries are horrifically common, and they usually happen to young children with protruding front teeth. The child will often spend the rest of their lives dealing with the fall-out from the injury. All children need to wear a mouth guard for high risk activities.
And, since prevention is always better than cure, see a Specialist Orthodontist.
At Sunbird Orthodontics, we routinely include the provision of sports mouth guards during active treatment. Once active treatment is completed, we always provide a custom-made sports mouth guard free of charge, to ensure the on-going protection of your child’s perfect teeth!
Dr Bobby Griffin is a board-registered Specialist Orthodontist and the Principle of Sunbird Orthodontics. With over 13 years as a caring family dentist prior to Specialist Orthodontic training, Dr Bobby has treated more children for dental trauma than he cares to remember.