Pediatric dental trauma is surprisingly common. Toddlers are unsteady on their feet and fall often. Many school-aged children are fearless daredevils, or actively involved in sports, bike riding, skateboarding and other high-risk activities. Damage to the oral cavity can present in a variety of ways. Less severe damage can go undetected by parents, only to be uncovered by a dental exam.
The most common dental traumatic injury in children include:
Teeth are composed of three layers when fractured or chipped; the vulnerable inner workings become exposed. It is crucial to have damage to a child’s teeth evaluated immediately to determine the extent of the injury. Some minor fractures can be easily smoothed, while others require more invasive treatment. If a large piece is chipped off and found, it may be cemented back onto the tooth. Be sure to bring any fractured chunks with you when you visit your dentist.
Minor loosening or displacement can be monitored during routine visits, but a serious injury may require more aggressive treatment, such as tooth extraction. A mildly loosened tooth may tighten on its own over time. Continued evaluation is necessary to avoid future infection.
One of the most serious dental traumas in children is avulsion. This means that the tooth has been completely knocked out of the socket. In these cases, timing is important for successful re-implantation. If your child loses a permanent tooth, locate it and store it in a glass of milk to keep it moist or in a save a tooth kit. Get your child and the avulsed tooth to a dentist as soon as possible. Primary teeth are not put back in place due to the risk of infection or damage to the underlying adult teeth.