Although dental injuries and dental emergencies are often distressing for both children and parents, they are also extremely common. Approximately one third of children have experienced some type of dental trauma, and more have experienced a dental emergency.
There are two peak risk periods for dental trauma – the first being toddlerhood (18-40 months) when environmental exploration begins, and the second being the pre-adolescent/adolescent period, when sporting injuries become commonplace.
Detailed below are some of the most common childhood dental emergencies, in addition to helpful advice on how to deal with them.
Toothache is common in children of all ages and rarely occurs without cause. Impacted food can cause discomfort in young children, and can be dislodged using a toothbrush, a clean finger, or dental floss. If pain persists, contact the paediatric dentist. Some common causes of toothache include: tooth fractures, tooth decay, tooth trauma, and wisdom teeth eruption (adolescence).
How you can help:
- Cleanse the area using warm water. Do not medicate or warm the affected tooth or adjacent gum area.
- Check for impacted food and remove it as necessary.
- Apply a cold compress to the affected area to reduce swelling.
- Give your child Paracetamol or Ibuprofen for any pain or discomfort.
- Contact the paediatric dentist to seek advice.
Tooth Injury (Dental Trauma)
First Aid Advice For Knocked-Out Permanent Tooth
To save the tooth, it must be re-implanted as soon as possible (2 hours is the outer limit for survival). Right away is best. If more than 30 minutes away from dental or medical care, replace the tooth in the socket before coming in. Use the following technique:
- Rinse off the tooth with saliva or water (do not scrub it).
- Replace it in the socket facing the correct way.
- Press down on the tooth with your thumb until the crown is level with the adjacent tooth.
- Have your child bite down on a wad of cloth to stabilize the tooth until you can reach your dentist.
Note: Baby teeth can’t be re-implanted.
Types of Tooth Injuries:
- Loosened tooth – may bleed a little from the gums. Usually tightens up on its own.
- Displaced tooth (usually pushed inward)
- Chipped or fractured tooth
- Avulsed (knocked out) tooth – a dental emergency for permanent teeth
Transporting a Knocked-Out Permanent Tooth
If unable to put the tooth back in its socket, follow these instructions:
- It is very important to keep the tooth moist. Do not let it dry out.
- Transport the tooth in milk or saliva (Milk is best per ADA 2003)
MILK TRANSPORT OPTION 1 (best): Place tooth in a small plastic bag with some milk. Put the plastic bag in a cup of ice.
MILK TRANSPORT OPTION 2: Place tooth in a cup of cold milk.
SALIVA TRANSPORT OPTION 1: Put the tooth inside the child’s mouth. (Be careful not to swallow it) (EXCEPTION: Age less than 12 years old)
SALIVA TRANSPORT OPTION 2: Put the tooth in a cup and keep tooth moist with child’s saliva (spit)