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Dental trauma in children

Any parent of a young child will tell you that children are constantly on the move. Unfortunately, with this comes the risk of trauma to the developing teeth. A New Zealand study has found that the most common causes of dental trauma in very young children are falls. As children get older, collisions and sports injuries become more common. Most incidents of dental trauma happen at home, followed closely by the school playground. For this reason it is important that parents know how to recognise and manage these injuries.

Any child who has a dental injury should see a dentist or dental therapist as soon as possible. Often the immediate management has a significant effect on the long-term outcomes of the teeth affected by dental trauma. The first person to the scene is usually a parent or teacher. They should check the teeth and surrounding tissues to identify the teeth that have been affected. Commonly, teeth are loosened, displaced or knocked out. Usually, there is bleeding and swelling of the lips or gums. Initial management should involve stopping the bleeding with pressure from a clean cloth or tissue. An ice pack may help reduce the swelling and make the child more comfortable.

If a tooth has been knocked out, it is very important to find the lost tooth and bring the child to the dentist. If it is an adult tooth it should be gently rinsed with milk or saline and put back into the socket as quickly as possible. These teeth have a much better outcome if they are replaced within an hour. If the tooth can’t be put back in place, it should be put in milk and brought to the dentist immediately. Baby teeth however, should not be put back in place if they are lost as there is a risk of damage to the adult tooth underneath.

Our team at The Dental Practice are trained in the management of dental trauma. We have two dental therapists, who are university-trained, to look after children up to 18 years. We will diagnose the type of injury and manage the acute and long-term effects.

The diagnosis involves a clinical examination and taking appropriate radiographs (x-rays). Short-term treatment may involve careful monitoring, splinting damaged teeth, suturing the gum or replacing damaged teeth. Longer-term treatment of severe injuries may involve root canal treatment or replacement of severely damaged teeth.

Children are very active and injuries to the teeth are common. If you are concerned or your child has had an accident, please contact us and know we are there to help.

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