So your kid knocks out a tooth playing hockey or soccer. You may be concerned about how that’s going to affect his future. But you don’t have to worry; it’s actually a common occurrence. About 50 percent of kids in the U.S. injure a tooth during childhood, according to dentist urgent care statistics. While many of these injuries are preventable with mouth guards, dental trauma usually happens as a result of a:
- Sports injury
- Automobile accident
In most dental trauma cases, mouth and teeth injuries aren’t life threatening, although Dr. Cohen, urgent care can help in the aftermath. Children rarely develop serious complications, but dental trauma may have a long-lasting effect on your child’s appearance and self-esteem. Talk to your dentist about the severity and potential complications of your child’s dental trauma.
Typical Causes of Dental Trauma
Most dental trauma in kids is caused by falls, fights and sports-related injuries. If you’re unsure about whether it’s an emergency or not, look for the following specific symptoms. If your child experiences any of these, take him to kids dentist urgent care or an emergency room as soon as possible:
- Missing, broken or loose teeth after a trauma — there’s a danger the tooth could be swallowed or inhaled
- Bleeding that won’t stop after 10 minutes of applying pressure
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Jaw pain when closing and opening his mouth
- A puncture in his mouth or throat area
- An object stuck in his cheek, tongue or roof of mouth — do not remove the object; let the doctor or dentist remove it
- Gaping cut inside his mouth
- Signs of slurred speech or blurred vision
- Weakness and numbness in any part of the body
- A cut that extends over the border of his lip to the adjacent skin
- Fever — temperature greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit
- Infection in the mouth — including pus, redness and pain
Diagnosing Dental Trauma
It may be an easy matter to diagnose dental trauma with a physical exam, but be prepared to share your child’s medical history with the emergency room doctor or kids dentist urgent care. Know the medications your child is taking, and be able to accurately describe how the dental trauma occurred.
Your dentist may take X-rays, followed by an MRI or CAT scan, depending on the severity of the injury. The results of these imaging tests tell your dentist if there’s:
- Damage to a tooth’s root
- Bone fractures
- Injury to any blood vessels
- A swallowed or inhaled object
Treatment Options for Dental Trauma
Overall, your dentist urgent care recommends treatment for dental trauma based on two factors:
- The type and severity of the injury
- Whether the injury is to a baby tooth or adult tooth
The most common baby tooth injury is a loose or dislocated tooth. When a dentist urgent care treats these injuries, the focus is on stopping damage to future permanent teeth. Some baby teeth that are loose can be left in place, but if they interfere with biting or chewing, they have to be removed. Typically, loose baby teeth heal on their own without treatment.
If your child’s primary (or baby) tooth is really loose, your child dentist urgent care may pull it so there’s no danger of choking on the tooth when your child sleeps. If it was knocked out completely, don’t try to put it back into the gum, as this may damage the permanent tooth about to replace it.
If your son or daughter breaks a baby tooth, you should visit kids dentist urgent care immediately. Nerves and blood vessels in the tooth may be damaged. Appropriate treatment could include smoothing rough edges of the tooth or repairing it with a resin. Removal may also be a treatment option.
For Bigger Kids
Kids usually don’t get permanent teeth until they are six or seven years old. A permanent tooth injury like an accidental removal is considered a dental emergency that requires immediate treatment. The missing tooth should be put back into the socket, if possible, within fifteen minutes to an hour after the injury. If you can’t replace it yourself, store it in cold milk until you can get to a dentist urgent care or emergency room. About 85 percent of teeth that are knocked out have a full recovery if they’re put back into the socket within five minutes.
Since it’s so important to replace a permanent tooth quickly, you need to be prepared to help your child re-implant it. Follow these steps if your child has lost a permanent tooth:
- Only handle the tooth by the crown — the top of the tooth.
- Gently rinse it in saline or tap water to remove any debris. Do not scrub or sterilize it.
- Re-implant the tooth back into the socket by hand.
- Have your child bite on a clean handkerchief or towel to keep it in place.
- See a child dentist urgent care immediately.
- If you can’t re-implant it yourself, store the tooth in a container with cold milk. If you don’t have cold milk, put the tooth in a small container with your child’s saliva. Don’t use water, as this reduces the chances of a full healing. The likelihood of the tooth surviving decreases the longer it’s out of your child’s mouth.
Possible Complications from Dental Trauma
Typically, children enjoy a full recovery from dental trauma with no complications. Prompt treatment reduces complications, as does following your dentist’s instructions and following up with the kids dentist on a regular basis. Possible complications may include:
- If your child suffered a cut on the lip that extends to the neighboring skin, it may scar while healing. Also, a cut or tear on the tongue that doesn’t heal right may affect swallowing and speech.
- Permanent teeth damage. This damage can include sensitivity to cold and heat, discoloration, or loss of teeth. Kids who have a tooth re-implanted in the socket often need a root canal later.
- Excessive bleeding. This isn’t common, but may happen if there’s an injury to a blood vessel.
- This can include infection of the gums, teeth, neck and chest.