Kids can be a handful.
Taking your eyes away from them for just a moment can end disastrously if you’re not being careful. Even if you made it through their toddler years, sports and friends can leave your little one bruised & battered.
While some wounds can be treated with Band-Aids and topical creams, dental injuries are a different story altogether. Roughly 50% of children will at some point experience a type of injury to their teeth or jaw. Most of which are preventable.
Luckily, there are steps parents and guardians can take to reduce the chance of their child ruining their teeth. Let’s go through the most common injuries parents are likely to see, when you should seek medical attention, and what you can do to encourage safer play.
Most Common Dental Injuries
Unfortunately, most dental accidents are often a by-product of head injuries. For this reason, it is incredibly important to understand if your child has suffered a concussion.
If you notice your child is experiencing dizziness, vomiting, confusion, seizures, or slurred speech, you’ll want to seek medical attention right away.
Broken or Dislocated Primary (Baby) Teeth
If your child experiences a broken or premature loss of one of their baby teeth, you will want to see a dentist ASAP. Damages to the root, gums, and nerves can come with serious consequences, such as loss of feeling or shifting of the permanent teeth beneath the gum line.
If a tooth is loose (also known as dental subluxation), you will have to judge the severity. Lightly loose baby teeth will often repair themselves with time and a bit of protection, however, very loose teeth should be removed by a dentist before more damage can occur.
If a baby tooth is ever removed, dental specialists will usually install a space maintainer. This allows for the permanent adult to have enough space when emerging and reduces the chance of crooked teeth due to crowding.
Broken or Dislocated Permanent Teeth
In the case of small chips in your child’s teeth, you can use your judgement and ask your young one if they are experiencing consistent pain. If it is small enough and doesn’t induce discomfort, there is nothing to worry about.
However, if the damage has resulted in a sharp tooth or a major chunk has broken off, then you will want to see a dentist promptly. They will manage the damage through a myriad of different techniques, such as smoothing rough edges, repairing with resin, or removing the tooth completely.
In the case of an adult tooth becoming fully dislodged, the first thing you will want to do it put the tooth back in the socket (if possible), ensuring to not to touch the roots. If it is not possible to reach the socket, you will want to place the tooth into a glass of cold milk for preservation, and seek dental assistance immediately.
Teeth placed within the socket or in a glass of milk have higher chances of reattachment than a tooth stored dry. In a perfect world, you should aim to have your child at a dentist’s within one (1) hour from the tooth’s dislocation.
Mouth Tears or Punctures
Most tears that you or your child will experience are not serious. A majority of cases will heal themselves without the aid of stitches, even including tears to the frenulum (the flap of skin underneath the upper lip).
Large cuts may require stitches, but it will require judgement upon the parent. If bleeding is persistent and lasts longer than 10 minutes you and your child should seek medical attention.
For any perforations or cuts involving the throat, it is important to have the injury inspected immediately. These injuries can result from tripping with an object in your mouth and are more common than one would think. However, the throat contains some integral organs and arteries, so don’t waste a moment hesitating a trip to the closest medical assistance.
Protecting Children from Dental Injuries
You’re not always going to be around to monitor your child – that would be impossible. So, the next best thing you can do for your child is to teach them the importance of safety and common sense. As well, providing your child with emergency contacts will empower them to make the right decision if they manage to injure themselves with no adult presence.
We don’t need to be rocket engineers or brain surgeons to understand the importance of safety equipment. Helmets, mouth guards, elbow pads, knee pads, and wrist guards help protect bones and skin, however, their presence provides a point-of-contact other than the head. It isn’t guaranteed to stop injuries to the jaw and/or mouth, but it does help to reduce the chances.
Hygiene and Diet
After any dental injury or surgery, it is important to keep your child’s mouth clean to avoid infections. This will include twice a day brushing (with dentist/doctors consent), and intermittent mouthwash to prevent bacteria and swelling within the wound.
Children should also avoid spicy or overly salty food, popcorn, and sticky treats during their recovery. Foods that contain a high amount of phosphorous and calcium are great to help repair any damages to enamel, while food high in zinc, protein, and vitamins A and C are needed for healing.
If surgery was involved your child may need to be on a restricted diet, avoiding foods likely to damage stitches, wires, crowns, etc. Liquids, milkshakes, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, yogurt, and hummus are all perfect foods to limit discomfort during these times.
Need an Injury Looked at?
If you are concerned and worried about your child’s dental injury and don’t know if it requires immediate attention, don’t take the risk!
A number of mouth injuries will benefit from prompt, professional attention. Instead of waiting, call Treehouse Pediatric Dental Care today and get your child the assistance they need!