Injuries to Baby Teeth
Children are at risk of falling when they first start to explore the world themselves. Unfortunately, any fall that causes injury to baby teeth can affect the development of a child’s adult teeth. It can cause deformation of the adult tooth, or can even cause disruption to the eruption pattern of adult teeth if the injury is severe.
A knocked out primary tooth should not be replaced due to the risk of injuring the permanent tooth in the jaw bone.
Helping to prevent dental injuries to primary teeth
The following are some recommendations from the International Association of Dental Trauma:
- Avoid the use of baby walkers.
- Children shall not use roller skates without protection.
- Teach your children to:
- Pay great attention to their teeth and their friends’ teeth when playing by not knocking their teeth.
- Watch out for potential obstacles that can cause a trip.
- Avoid pushing when playing.
- Avoid any risky moves such as jumping off the swing when it is in motion, jumping out from the swimming pool, jumping off the stairs, etc.
- Wear a helmet and a mouthguard when undertaking contact sports or other high risk sports (eg: rugby, hockey, karate, riding on a bike, winter sports)
These recommendations can sometimes be challenging to follow, especially for growing kids, but they serve as general precautionary advice.
Injuries to Adult Teeth
Permanent teeth start to erupt around the age of 6 or 7. This corresponds to the time when kids start going to primary school. At this age they are exposed to more activities with more kids around, posing a higher risk of trauma. Another common stage of life where there is increased risk of dental trauma are the teenage years. This is because of increased involvement in sports and other physical activity.
What to do after suffering a traumatic dental injury?
For both baby and adult teeth:
Consult your dentist immediately. Visiting the dentist as soon as possible has many advantages:
- There is a higher chance and possibility to keep the tooth alive.
- A conservation treatment can be carried out.
- Future complications and more extensive treatment can be avoided as much as possible.
What to do if a adult tooth is broken or knocked out?
Note: This is only relevant for adult (permanent) teeth. This should not be performed for baby teeth. If you are unsure, the safest thing to do would be to follow step 5 and 6.
- Pick up the tooth by the crown (the white part), not by the root (the yellow part). Make sure it is an adult tooth.
- If there is visible soil or dirt, rinse shortly under a stream of gentle saline or cold tap water
- If possible, gently and carefully reposition the tooth into the socket it fell out of
- Keep the tooth in place by biting onto something soft (eg. a handkerchief, sterile gauze) to maintain its position. Go to the dentist immediately.
- If unable to put the tooth back in, place the tooth in enough milk or saline to cover it fully. If milk or saline is not available, place the tooth in the mouth gently (between the cheeks and gums) to keep it moist with saliva.
- Seek dental treatment immediately