A mouth or dental injury is quite common in children, especially as they become mobile and start getting involved in sports or other physical activities. These type of injuries should always be taken seriously and be tended to right away, as they could lead to complications and may require immediate professional attention. The most important thing is to remain calm and take the proper precautions to ensure your child gets the right treatment.
It is important to be aware of the different types of injuries that could occur. Common types of injuries include:
- Soft tissue injury – laceration (cut) to the lip, inner lining of the mouth, tongue or gums
- Broken, loose or knocked out tooth
- Fractured jaw
Treatment for a mouth or dental injury will depend on the type of injury and the severity. A soft tissue injury may require stitches. If it is bleeding, apply pressure to the area with a gauze pad until you can get medical assistance. These types of injuries are typically taken care of by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon if they are severe. Minor injuries like small cuts can be taken care of at home.
Care for a tooth injury will also depend on what happened to the tooth and what type of tooth was injured. Taking care of a primary or baby tooth is typically much different than taking care of a permanent tooth. If a baby tooth is broken or loose, your dentist may keep it in place if it has the capability to heal on its own. However, baby teeth that are too loose or have severe nerve damage most likely will need to be removed. A baby tooth that has been completely knocked out will not need to be replaced, but medical attention should still be sought out.
A permanent tooth that has been injured requires immediate medical attention. If a permanent tooth is broken or knocked out, it can most likely be replaced as long is it is treated within the first fifteen minutes to hour of being injured.
If possible, and for best results, rinse off the dislodged tooth quickly in running water but do not scrub or scrape it. Then place into the socket as fully as possible. Have the child bite on gauze or a cloth to keep it in place until reaching the dentist’s office.
The second best option is to have a Tooth-Saver kit on hand for such emergencies to drop the tooth into for safe transport to the office along with the patient. They can be purchased online at Amazon.com (Think Safe V12080 Save-A-Tooth Tooth Preservation Kit).
The third best option is to place the tooth in cold milk to preserve it, then the dentist can place it back into the socket.
Chipped teeth can be easily repaired as well. Attempt to preserve the piece of tooth in cold water, then the dentist will reattach it. If you are unable to preserve it, the tooth can be restored with a composite resin.
For more severe wounds such as puncture wounds inside the mouth or a suspected fracture to the jaw or other facial bone, you should seek immediate emergency care for your child.
While dental and mouth injuries are often inevitable, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the risk of your child getting hurt:
- “Baby-proof” the house when your child begins to start crawling and walking. Keep them away from sharp corners and let them walk barefoot or while wearing grip socks to reduce accidents
- Remind your child not to run with scissors, pencils, toothbrushes, or indoors around furniture that could easily trip them up
- Encourage your child to wear protective gear when playing sports, including mouth guards and helmets
Finally, never hesitate to contact your dentist or pediatrician in the event of a dental injury. They can provide the proper advice for taking care of your child’s injury and let you know if immediate medical attention is necessary.