Dental injuries in children

No need to call the Tooth Fairy just yet! Here are some tips on dealing with your child’s dental injuries

Dental injuries in children occur most frequently between the ages one and three, when toddlers learn to walk, and the ages eight 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.

There are different types of dental injuries, which include loosened teeth; teeth that are pushed out of position; fractured teeth; teeth that are knocked out completely; injuries to soft tissues such as lips, gums and tongue; tooth root fracture and dental bone fracture. Such injuries can be very distressing for the child as well as the parents. Knowing what to do when it happens can reduce the anxiety and make a difference in the long-term survival of the tooth.

Here are some steps you may follow when your kids face the aforementioned injuries:

  • Keep calm.
  • Clean the wound with a clean cloth and water. The wound may not be as bad as it looks after it is cleaned up. Check for other injuries and wellbeing of the child.
  • Stop the bleeding by compressing the wound with a clean cloth for five minutes.
  • If some parts of the tooth are missing or a whole tooth is 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 it in tissue or allow it to dry.
  • For older children, if the whole adult tooth is knocked out, put it back in the socket immediately and bite on a cloth for stabilisation. If the tooth is dirty, wash it briefly under cold water for 10 seconds before replanting. Remember to hold it by the crown of the tooth while doing so. This replantation procedure is only for adult teeth that are 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.

TIPS ON PREVENTING DENTAL INJURIES

  1. Child-proof your house by keeping away potential tripping and slipping hazards such as electrical cords.
  2. While travelling in a car, ensure that your child is securely fastened in a car seat or booster seat with seat belts.
  3. Children involved in contact sports should wear a mouthguard.
  4. Consider early braces for children with protruded upper teeth to reduce likelihood of trauma to those teeth.