A guide to dental injuries in children
When a youngster experiences dental trauma it can be an extremely distressing experience both for the parents and child. Due to the strong blood supply, dental injuries tend to bleed a lot and often appear to be more severe than they actually are.
Emergency dentistry should be among the top of the list for guardians hoping to ensure their offspring maintain healthy teeth and gums from an early age due to the fact youngsters tend to damage their pearly whites on a regular basis.
While most dental injuries occur when a child is a toddler, problems can begin to emerge in later life if teeth and gums are not given the appropriate care.
What shall I do if my child loses a tooth?
Although children do lose their milk teeth from an early age, it is important that parents do not dismiss cases where a child has had an accident. These pearly whites serve a number of important purposes including assisting speech and learning to form words accurately.
For this reason, losing teeth early on can disrupt an important learning curve. Additionally, the milk teeth help the jaw to grow properly at an early age, ensuring there is enough space for the adult teeth to develop into.
Losing an adult tooth during the growing process can affect the bite and cause a malocclusion, which may result in the requirement for orthodontic work and for the child to wear braces in the future.
In a bid to prevent a toddler experiencing dental trauma due to an accident in the home, parents are advised to take action to ensure hard furniture is covered with a spongy layer. Taking simple steps to protect children from injury could mean their teeth remain intact for longer, which could have a positive effect on their oral health.
However, if a milk tooth is lost prematurely, emergency dentists will usually advise against trying to re-implant it due to the negative effect it could have on the adult teeth below the gum tissue.
For this reason, guardians should not replace a lost milk tooth before taking their child to an appointment with a dental professional. It is worth noting down an emergency telephone number and address to a dental clinic somewhere nearby, while some parents choose to create their own dental repair kit incase an accident occurs.
Does this apply to older children?
An emergency dentist may adopt a slightly different approach when treating children whose teeth have already emerged. If well looked after, these pearly whites could last a lifetime so it is vital to ensure they remain strong and healthy and immediate action is taken should a dental injury occur.
In cases when a tooth is completely knocked out of the socket, patients should not lose hope as this issue can often by solved by re-implanting the pearly white and allowing the gum tissue to grow back around it. Parents should ensure they store the tooth in a glass of milk while making the journey to a dental clinic.
Getting a patient to a dental appointment in the space of one hour when their tooth has fallen out can greatly increase the chance of resolving the issue.
Which incidents can be classified as a dental emergency?
Some parents may be on edge and take their child to the dentist when there is little need, while others may adopt a more relaxed approach and give injuries time to heal naturally. Although neither philosophy is more appropriate than the other, it could be beneficial for guardians to increase their awareness on ailments that require immediate treatment.
Severe tooth ache can be a telltale sign of underlying decay, which can lead to a number of wider health issues if left to develop. Should this begin to worsen, patients could find themselves facing expensive and painful procedures to correct the problem. This issue should be treated as soon as the decay is spotted, with dental professionals able to monitor this and act quickly when required.
In cases where bleeding continues after pressure has been applied to the affected area, a dental professional should be contacted if the flow continues for more than ten minutes. Additionally, when a child is having trouble breathing and swallowing, treatment could be vital in making a speedy recovery.
A doctor should be the first point of call when a child has suffered a blow to the face and has become slightly concussed, as well as feel dizzy or is struggling to form sentences.
Deep cuts on the inside of the mouth can be treated by an emergency dentist and should be dealt with as soon as possible in a bid to prevent problems with eating, drinking and talking.
If dental injuries are left untreated for a long period of time the affected area can become infected and spread to adjacent teeth, gums and around the mouth. Although this issue can usually be treated with a course of antibiotics, many parents fail to monitor the problem adequately enough and let the infection worsen.
Chipped and fractured teeth
When a tooth is chipped or fractured following an accident in the home or on the field of play, children will often experience severe toothache either immediately after the incident or a few days later.
When this occurs, the affected pearly white can become extremely sensitive to hot and cold substances so eating and drinking can become increasingly difficult.
Underlying issues concerning a damaged tooth include the possibility of exposing the inner pulp that is found inside each pearly white. Root canal treatment may be required if the problem is left untreated for a long period of time, but – when discovered early – the problem is easily preventable.
Teenagers or young people taking part in any high contact sport should ensure they wear a mouth guard while on the field of play to prevent any nasty repercussions from an accident.
While there are several types of mouth guard available on the market, parents are advised to seek this appliance from a dental practice so it can be made to fit the teeth of the individual perfectly.
How can I prevent a dental emergency?
Although it is virtually impossible to protect children from every type of accident, it is vital to remember that many dental issues can be prevented if an effective oral hygiene routine is maintained.
Teaching a child the correct method of tooth cleaning, as well as the importance of doing so, from an early age should encourage them to continue this technique in later life. Parents should make sure their offspring clean their pearly whites twice every day for at least two minutes.
Additionally, regular visits to a dentist means oral health can be checked and initial signs of underlying issues can be monitored from an early age.
The practice is open Seven days a week from 8am to 11pm for routine dentistry and we offer a 24 hour emergency dental walk-in service 365 days a year. You can book a consultation at any time by calling our reception team 24 hours a day on 0208 547 9997 or contact us during our working hours by email.