Dental injuries in children occur most frequently between the ages 1 and 3, when toddlers learn to walk, and the ages of 8 and 11, when children are more active and engage in contact sports. Dental trauma may occur as a result of a fall, a sports mishap, fights or road traffic accidents.
The different types of dental injuries include:
* Loosened teeth.
* Teeth that are pushed out of position.
* Fractured teeth.
* Teeth that are knocked out completely.
* Soft tissue injuries to the lips, gums and tongue.
* Tooth root and dental bone fractures.
Such injuries can be very distressing for the child as well as the parents. So, knowing what to do when this happens can reduce anxiety and make a difference in the tooth’s long-term survival.
Ways to prevent dental injuries
* Children involved in contact sports should wear a mouth guard.
* Consider early braces for children with protruding upper teeth to reduce the likelihood of trauma to those teeth.
What to do when your kids hurt their teeth
* Keep calm.
* Clean the wound with a clean cloth and water ― it may not look as bad after you’ve cleaned it up. Check for other injuries and your child’s well-being.
* Stop the bleeding by using a clean cloth to compress the wound for five minutes.
* If some parts of the tooth are missing or the entire tooth has been knocked out, find it and pick it up by the crown. Do not touch the root. Store the tooth or its fragments in cold milk. Do not wrap tooth in tissue or allow to dry.
* If you have older children and their entire adult tooth is knocked out, put it back in the socket immediately and bite on a cloth to stabilise it. If the tooth is dirty, wash it briefly under cold water for 10 seconds before replanting. Remember to hold the tooth by the crown while doing so. This replantation procedure is only for adult teeth that have been knocked out. If in doubt, always place the tooth in cold milk.
Seek dental advice and treatment immediately. Treatment will depend on the type of dental injury and whether it is a baby or adult tooth.
Dr Toh Siew Luan, a paediatric dentist, practises at Thomson Specialist Dentistry
This article first appeared in the December/January 2016 issue of Thomson Medical’s Celebrating Life magazine.
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