Dental Trauma: Handling a dental emergency
Accidents can happen at any age but knowing what to do when a dental emergency occurs is crucial. If your child’s tooth or mouth get knocked contact your dentist immediately to get some advice or be seen.
Children that are learning to crawl or walk are prone to falling over. In fact, many injuries in young children occur during these first few years of life. Although part of normal development, significant damage can occur to teeth if injured and left untreated. During the first years of life, the primary teeth are very closely related to the permanent teeth, which are forming inside the bone. When an injury occurs to the primary teeth in this period, it can affect the aesthetics of the permanent teeth, which will present at approximately eight years of age with whitish marks or a deformation in the crown depending on the extent of the injury.
The most serious lesions on the primary teeth can cause complications to the permanent successors; ie. intrusion (when the tooth is buried in the gum) and avulsion (when the tooth is knocked out). Both situations are more serious the younger the child is. The primary tooth should not be replaced once it has been knocked out.
If your child knocks their baby (primary) tooth out:
- Do not attempt to put it back in
- Seek an immediate opinion from a dentist and take the tooth along with you
- If you are unsure whether it is an adult or baby tooth store the tooth in milk and visit your dentist
If your child knocks their adult (permanent) tooth:
- Find the tooth. Hold the tooth by the crown (the white part), not by the root (the yellow part).
- Replant immediately, if possible
- If contaminated, rinse shortly with cold tap water and put the tooth back in its place. This can be done by the child or an adult.
- Hold the tooth in place. Bite on a handkerchief to hold it in position and go to the dentist immediately.
- If you can not put the tooth back in, place it in a cup of milk or saline. When milk or saline are not available, place the tooth in the child’s mouth (between the cheeks and gums)
- Seek immediate dental treatment
Children between 7 and 10 years of age are more exposed to suffer avulsion due to the elasticity of the bone at this age. Good oral hygiene is crucial to allow good healing.