Dental Trauma In Children
What is Dental Trauma?
Dental trauma can include damage to one or more teeth, the gums, lips or mouth area. Such injuries can be highly stressful for both the child and their guardians, so it is important to know what to do when dental trauma occurs.
While getting treatment for dental trauma is urgent, the damage will often come as a result of other facial and head injuries. If a child has suffered a neck or head injury, they should be taken to a hospital to be evaluated in an emergency department before any dental action is taken.
What to Do When a Child Experiences Dental Trauma
By the age of 14, thirty percent of children have experienced some sort of dental trauma. Dental trauma in children is so common due to the fact that almost all kids are prone to having accidents. While exploring the world and playing, children’s teeth can be cracked, chipped or even knocked loose.
When this happens, it is important that you get in contact with your dentist immediately. Ideally, your child can be brought in to be looked at by the dentist as soon as possible. Even if the damage is minor and to a baby tooth, it is still important to discuss the issue with the dentist, at the very least. Without the guidance of a professional, dental trauma can cause long-term complications.
The management of trauma to baby teeth (also known as primary teeth) is different to that of adult teeth. When a baby tooth is damaged, the primary goal is to minimise any additional risks to the developing permanent teeth. Because of this, a baby tooth should never be repositioned, splintered or replanted.
It is important to visit your dentist as soon as possible if a tooth has:
- Moved from its original position.
- Cracked, chipped or fractured.
- Become loose or mobile.
- Been pushed into the gums and bone.
- Been knocked out.
How to Treat Dental Trauma
The most important thing you can do for any dental trauma is to get your child to a dentist as soon as possible. When you arrive at the dental surgery, the dentist will examine the affected tooth or teeth, and will also check your child for any other mouth injuries.
Some tests may be performed to evaluate the condition of your child’s teeth. If necessary, the dentist may take x-rays of the affected area to better assess the damage.
The affected teeth will then be repositioned, splintered or replanted (only in the case of damage to a permanent tooth). Alternatively, a filling may be placed to fix the issue. In some cases, a local anesthetic will need to be applied.
When the dentist is done, you will likely need to come back for a follow up appointment, so that the affected teeth can be monitored over time.
Knocked Out Teeth
If a baby tooth has fallen out, it is essential that you do not reinsert it. If you are unsure whether the tooth is an adult or a baby tooth, place it in milk or saliva for transportation to your dentist as soon as possible. Make sure to only hold the tooth by the crown. Holding it by the tooth root can lead to permanent damage.
If an adult tooth has been knocked out, follow these steps carefully.
- Remain calm, but act quickly. Arrange to see your dentist as soon as possible. Ideally, you should see a dentist within thirty minutes from the moment of the accident.
- Find the tooth, making sure to hold it by the crown. Avoid touching the roots as much as possible.
- If dirty, rinse the tooth in milk, saliva or saline solution. Do this briefly, and do not scrub the tooth.
- If possible, you should try to place the tooth back in its original position, making sure it is facing the right way by comparing with adjacent teeth. This will significantly increase the chances that the tooth can be replanted.
- Gently ask the child to bite on a soft tissue, aluminium foil or a mouthguard (if they have one) to keep the tooth in place.
- If you cannot reinsert the tooth, transport it to your dentist in milk, saliva or saline in a container or Ziplock bag. The tooth is more likely to survive if you can get it to the dentist within thirty minutes of being knocked out. After this time, the ligament cells which hold a tooth in place begin to die, reducing the chances of successful replanting.
After dental trauma, tooth discolouration can be a common complication. Over time, the tooth may begin to appear normal again. In the case of more severe complications, a root canal or other surgeries can be performed.
To properly heal after a dental injury, good oral hygiene is required. Adhering to a soft diet will allow any loose teeth to become firmer, and swabbing the impacted area with 0.1 chlorhexidine twice a day for 10–14 days will reduce the risk of infection.
Prevention is always better than repairing damaged teeth, so if your child plays sports, it is important that they use a mouthguard to prevent dental trauma.
At Park Road Dental, we specialise in the management of traumatic dental experiences. If your child has experienced dental trauma, get in contact with our team on (03) 9584 4949 . For non-emergencies, you can also use our online contact form to get in touch.