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Traumatic Dental Injuries 411...
Oral injuries are ranked as the second most common injuries in toddler age children. Nearly 50% of all school age children experience some form of dental fracture between the ages of 6-18. About 30% of children suffer from trauma to their primary dentition and 22% suffer from trauma to their permanent dentition. Sports accidents account for 10-39% of all dental injuries in children. A properly fitted sports mouthguard can prevent serious damage to teeth and oral tissues.
When a child suffers orofacial trauma, the consequences may be substantial. Trauma could possibly affect the permanent developing dentition and cause other problems like infection and pain. Of important significance are the psychological effects of the injury and the financial implications of long term care to restore the dentition to its original state. An immediate assessment of the injury by a qualified pediatric dentist is necessary to ensure proper diagnosis and a treatment that will result in the best long-term outcome. Pediatric dentists are usually first responders when a child suffers a dental trauma because they are trained to deal with these types of injuries. Establishing a dental home at an early age will allow you to secure a resource for when these emergencies occur.
Here are 8 First Aid tips for Dental Emergencies:
Clean the area around the sore tooth thoroughly. Use dental floss to remove trapped food in-between teeth. Rinse the mouth with warm salt water. DO NOT place an aspirin on the gum or the aching tooth. Apply ice if the face is swollen. Give your child acetaminophen for pain and contact a dentist for further evaluation.
Cut or Bitten Tongue, Lip or Cheek
Apply ice to bruised area. Clean the injured area with a mix of water and peroxide. (It is normal for peroxide to bubble heavily as you apply it with gauze). If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a gauze or a clean cloth. If bleeding cannot be controlled with simple pressure after 15 minutes, take your child to the dentist or a hospital emergency room.
Knocked-Out Permanent Tooth
Remain calm. Find the tooth. Handle the tooth by the top (crown), not the root portion. Rinse the tooth with saline water. DO NOT SCRUB! Clean the injured area with a mix of water and peroxide. (It is normal for peroxide to bubble heavily as you apply it with gauze). Try to reinsert the tooth in its socket. Have your child hold the tooth in place by biting on a clean gauze or cloth. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place it in a plastic container or a re-sealable bag with saline water or milk. See a dentist IMMEDIATELY! Time is critical in saving the tooth.
Find the tooth fragments and place in a plastic re-sealable bag. Clean the injured area with a mix of water and peroxide. (It is normal for peroxide to bubble heavily as you apply it with gauze). Place a cold compress over the face in the area of the injury. See a dentist IMMEDIATELY!
Broken Braces and Wires
If a broken appliance can be removed easily, take it out. If you cannot remove it, cover the sharp portion with a cotton ball, dental wax or even chewing gum. If a wire is stuck in the gums, cheek or tongue, DO NOT remove it. Take the child to a dentist IMMEDIATELY. Loose or broken appliances which do not bother the child don’t usually require emergency attention.
Cold/ Canker Sores
Over-the-counter medications usually give some relief for the occasional cold/canker sore. Avoid acidic or spicy foods. Make sure that your child is drinking plenty of fluids. Some serious diseases may begin as sores. It is important to have a dental evaluation if these sores persist.
Bleeding After a Baby Tooth Falls Out
Fold and pack a clean gauze or cloth over the bleeding area. Have your child bite on the gauze with pressure for 15 minutes. See a dentist if bleeding persists.
Possible Broken Jaw
If a jaw fracture is suspected, try to keep the jaws from moving by using a towel. Take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Dr. Maribel Santo-Cordero is a board-certified pediatric dentist in Lakewood Ranch dedicated to the oral health of children, adolescents and children with special needs. She believes in helping children achieve their full potential by providing all the necessary tools to achieve optimal oral health. Visit www.sarasotachildrendentistry.com to learn more about her practice.