Did you know that 39% of children experience some form of dental trauma by the time they reach adolescence? A dentist in Kapolei says that ensuring good oral health and overall well-being includes preventing and promptly treating dental trauma. By seeking preventative measures, timely treatment, and emotional support, you can help your child maintain healthy teeth and a positive attitude toward oral care.
Understanding Dental Trauma in Children
What Is Dental Trauma?
Dental trauma is a broad term that encompasses any damage or injury to the teeth or the surrounding structures of the mouth, such as the gum tissue and jawbone. Moreover, its severity may vary, from minor chips and cracks to more severe injuries that result in a completely knocked-out tooth.
What Are the Common Causes of Dental Trauma?
- Falls or Accidents
Children learning to walk or play independently are more prone to falls, which can lead to injuries to their teeth and surrounding structures. Accidents such as tripping or running into objects can cause dental trauma.
- Sports Injuries
Kids who participate in contact sports, such as football, basketball, or soccer, are more likely to experience dental trauma than those who don’t. Collisions with other players, falls, or contact with equipment such as balls, sticks, or rackets can cause injuries to the teeth and mouth. However, wearing a mouth guard can help prevent dental trauma in sports.
- Biting on Hard Objects
Biting on pencils, pens, or ice can cause chips, cracks, and fractures in the teeth. For these reasons, you’ll want to discourage your child from biting on hard objects and provide them with the appropriate tools, such as chewable toys, to satisfy their need to chew.
- Car Accidents
Dental trauma can result from car accidents due to the impact of the collision. Children not properly restrained in car seats or seat belts are more vulnerable to dental trauma in car accidents.
It’s also important to note that certain conditions, such as malocclusion or misaligned teeth, may increase the risk of dental trauma. If your child has improperly aligned teeth, you may consider seeking orthodontic treatment to address this and reduce their risk of injury.
What Are the Common Types of Dental Trauma in Children?
- Fractured Teeth
Fractured teeth can occur when the tooth is partially or completely broken. The tooth may only have a small chip or crack in minor cases. However, in more severe cases, the tooth may be split or broken into multiple pieces. Moreover, treatment for fractured teeth may include dental bonding or a dental crown.
- Avulsed Teeth
An avulsed tooth is a tooth that has been completely knocked out of the mouth. It can occur due to a fall, sports injury, or other trauma to the mouth. If your child has a knocked-out tooth, you’ll want to seek immediate dental care. If proper steps are taken, it might be possible for the dentist to re-implant the tooth.
- Intruded Teeth
Intruded teeth occur when the tooth is pushed into the gum tissue, usually due to trauma to the mouth. Treatment for intruded teeth may include repositioning and stabilizing the tooth with a splint.
- Luxated Teeth
Luxated teeth occur when the tooth is partially dislodged from its socket but not completely knocked out. Furthermore, treatment for luxated teeth is similar to treatment for intruded teeth.
- Dental Fractures
Dental fractures occur when there’s a crack or break in the tooth that extends below the gum line. This type of injury can be challenging to treat and may require a root canal or extraction.
- Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries to the gums, lips, or tongue can occur with dental trauma. Besides causing bleeding and discomfort, these injuries may require stitches or other treatment.
Children may experience several types of dental trauma and the severity of the injury can vary from minor chips and cracks to more severe injuries that can lead to the complete loss of a tooth. Prompt treatment is essential to prevent further damage and complications. If your child has experienced dental trauma, you’ll want to seek immediate dental care to ensure the best possible outcome.
What Are the Symptoms of Dental Trauma in Children?
It’s worth noting that the symptoms of dental trauma in children can vary depending on the type, and severity of the injury. As a parent, you’ll want to watch out for these symptoms if you suspect your child has experienced dental trauma.
A severe injury increases a child’s likelihood of experiencing sharp or dull pain that may also be constant or intermittent.
If the injury causes inflammation or bleeding in the mouth, swelling in the gums, lips, or cheeks may occur.
Bleeding from the mouth or gums is a common symptom of dental trauma, especially if a tooth has been knocked out or fractured.
Discoloration or darkening of the tooth may be present if the injury causes bleeding inside the tooth.
Sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks may be present if the injury causes damage to the nerves inside the tooth.
- Difficulty Biting or Chewing
Difficulty biting or chewing may be present if the injury affects the child’s dental alignment or their teeth’s position.
- Visible Damage to the Tooth
If the child sustains a severe injury, visible damage to the tooth, such as a chip, crack, or missing tooth, may be present.
What Are the Strategies for Preventing Dental Trauma at Home and School?
While you can do several things to ensure your kids don’t suffer dental trauma at home, pediatric dental health experts recommend working with teachers to implement strategies that help prevent dental trauma at school.
- Wear Protective Gear
You’ll want your child to wear a mouth guard while playing sports or engaging in any activity involving dental injury risk. A properly fitted mouth guard can help prevent tooth fractures and dental trauma.
- Practice Safe Play
Encouraging your child to play safely can help prevent dental injuries. It’s best to teach them to avoid activities that lead to dental trauma, such as jumping off high surfaces, roughhousing, or engaging in activities without protective gear.
- Ensure a Safe Environment
Maintaining a safe environment in the home and school can significantly prevent dental trauma. You’ll want to remove dangerous toys and objects that can easily cause injuries to the mouth or keep them out of reach of children.