Dental injuries are much more common than one would at first believe. In many of our neighboring countries studies have shown that approximately 25% of children damage their teeth, either baby teeth or permanent teeth, and in some cases, both.
In general, keep the following in mind when dental injuries occur:
- Keep calm! Facial injuries usually look far worse than they really are.
- Monitor the child’s conscious state. Head trauma can have more severe and hidden consequences than is apparent at first. Dizziness, nausea, sleepiness, delirium, a bad headache, and distorted vision are symptoms of a serious problem. Should these symptoms present themselves, you should see a doctor right away.
- See if there is a tooth missing. If a tooth seems to be missing one of two things may have happened; the tooth may have been pushed so deep into the gum tissue that the bone is no longer visible, or the whole thing may have fallen out. If it is the latter, it is important to see if the tooth can be found in the area where the injury happened.
- Offer the child a sip of tepid water, if the injury is not too serious. If the child drinks a sip of water or rinses the mouth carefully, it is easier to see where the bleeding is coming from, understand the injury and assess whether the teeth have been damaged or if the damage is mostly to the gum tissue.
It is best to get a dentist’s opinion of all injuries to teeth, no matter how small they may seem. The correct responses immediately following the injury can prevent the irreparable loss that is losing a tooth.
INJURIES TO BABY TEETH
Fractured, loose and/or moved baby teeth call for a visit to the dentist. It is best to call and make an appointment as soon as possible, but usually this is damage that can wait for a few hours to be treated.
A baby tooth that has been knocked out should never be placed back in the alveolusl. If you do, you may damage the permanent tooth which is forming inside the jaw bone. You should, however, see a dentist, and it helps to bring the knocked out tooth with you. It is very important that this is not a permanent tooth since the treatment of baby teeth and permanent teeth is completely different.
Fractured, loose and/or moved permanent teeth call for a visit to the dentist. It is best to call and make an appointment as soon as possible, but usually this is damage than can wait for a few hours to be treated.
A permanent tooth that has been knocked out is incredibly important to find. If it is found, it shall be picked up by the crown, not by the root. If there is sand or dirt on it you may lick it clean and immediately place into back into its seat in the mouth. If this works there is a good chance of the tooth resetting, and the length of time which passes from when the tooth falls out and when it is placed back in its seat in the mouth is crucial. The sooner it gets back the better. Should this be successful you should keep the tooth in its place on the way to the dental clinic. If, however, you do not manage to get the tooth back in its place, store it in moisture, preferably in saline (for example contact lens liquid), or in milk (preferably full fat milk). Storing the tooth in water is not advisable. You should then see a dentist as soon as possible, who can hopefully restore the tooth.
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