Summertime Dental Injuries! What to do!
With the return of the sunshine and warmer days, Dentistry for Life also sees an increase in emergency dental visits for children. The most common reason is trauma to the front teeth. Generally, this is a result of a bike crash, a trampoline collision, falling on concrete around a pool (no running, please!) or a sports injury. In most cases, tooth and mouth injuries are not life threatening. Rarely, a child may develop serious complications. However, injuries to the teeth and mouth can also have long-lasting effects on the child’s appearance and self-confidence.
Approximately 30% of children have experienced dental injuries. Injuries to the mouth include teeth that are: knocked out, fractured, forced out of position, pushed up, or loosened. Root fracture and dental bone fractures can also occur. The upper front teeth are the most commonly injured teeth.
Treatment for these types of injuries are different for primary (baby) teeth vs permanent teeth.
What should I do if my child has a:
Cut or Bitten Tongue, Lip or Cheek:
Apply ice to injured areas to help control swelling. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a gauze or cloth. If bleeding cannot be controlled by simple pressure, call your dentist, pediatrician or visit the hospital emergency room.
Knocked Out Permanent Tooth:
If possible, find the tooth. Handle it by the crown, not by the root. You may rinse the tooth with milk only. DO NOT clean with soap, scrub or handle the tooth unnecessarily. Inspect the tooth for fractures. If it is sound, try to reinsert it in the socket. Have the patient hold the tooth in place by biting on a gauze or a folded paper towel. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, transport the tooth in a cup containing the patient’s saliva or milk. If the patient is old enough, the tooth may also be carried in the patient’s mouth (beside the cheek). The patient must see a dentist IMMEDIATELY! Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth.
Knocked Out Baby Tooth:
Contact your dentist. This is usually not an emergency, and in most cases, no treatment is necessary, however we would want to make sure that there is no remaining pieces of the tooth in the tissue that could cause infection.
Chipped or Fractured Permanent Tooth:
Contact your dentist. Quick action can save the tooth, prevent infection and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling. If possible, locate and save any broken tooth fragments and bring them with you to the dentist.
***Do Not Use Your Teeth as Cutting Devices*** Your teeth are meant to chew and grind your food down for digestion, however, when cutting utensils are not readily available while boating or at the beach , people like to use their teeth to open bottles and wrappers, cut fishing lines, and chew ice to cool down. Engaging in these types of activities can be harmful to your teeth and costly to repair. Teeth are often fractured performing these activities, forming hair-line fracture that cannot be seen by the naked-eye.
Chipped or Fractured Primary Tooth:
Recommendations to help prevent dental injuries are:
- Consider store bought or custom mouth guards for sports
- One child at a time on the trampoline. It is rare that we see injuries when only one child is on the trampoline at a time. With the increased fun of adding more people jumping at once, the chances of a child taking a knee or head to their mouth increases greatly.
- No running around the pool, its slippery!