DENTAL INJURIES IN CHILDREN
MY CHILD HAD AN ACCIDENT AND INJURED HIS TOOTH! WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Young Children with Baby Teeth
Do not panic. Your child may be crying loudly with bleeding from the lips and gums, but very often the situation is not as bad as it looks. Note down the time of the injury, and look around if there are any tooth fragments or knocked out teeth. If you find any, keep them with you to show the dentist later. Very gently use a wet towel and warm water to clean your child’s mouth and face. Be sure to remove any dirt that may be trapped in cuts and scratches. Once this is done, gently lift your child’s lips and assess the injury to the teeth with the help of a torch or bright light.
Do not touch the teeth, as they will be very sore.
If you have any paracetamol (Panadol) syrup you may give some to your child at the prescribed dose to temporarily alleviate the pain, then place cold compress against the face above the injured tooth. You should then bring your child to see a dentist as soon as possible.
Older Children with Permanent Teeth
In older children with permanent teeth trauma, the immediate management is similar to that outlined above. However, if the teeth have been broken as in the picture below, it becomes more important that you try to locate the fragments and bring them to the dentist. This is because sometimes, re-attachment of a fragment to a broken tooth may be possible and is usually the most ideally aesthetic outcome.
The exception to this management rule is when a permanent tooth has been completely knocked out from your child’s mouth, or avulsed. If you should encounter such a situation, it is crucial that you immediately follow the steps below as the faster you act, the more likely you can save the tooth.
- Recover the tooth and hold it by the crown (the fattest part) only. Do not touch the root (the pointed end) of the tooth
- Very gently, rinse the root of the tooth without touching it under low pressure running water only, making sure all dirt and debris is rinsed away
- Gently but firmly put the tooth back root-first into the gum socket where it was knocked out from, and instruct your child to bite or hold it in place using a clean tissue. Do not worry about the blood
- If you are unable to do this, place the tooth in a clean cup filled with enough of your child’s saliva to cover it completely. A less ideal alternative to saliva is fresh milk or contact lens saline solution. If your child is able to do so, you can also place the tooth in his or her mouth beside the cheek (don’t swallow it) as a good transport medium
- Seek dental attention immediately. Studies show that the best outcomes result when dental treatment is received within 1 hour of the avulsion
- Severe injuries or loss of consciousness
At all times, the health and safety of your child takes precedence. If an accident is severe and causes your child to become disorientated, lose consciousness or vomit, you must activate hospital emergency services immediately. This applies also to deep cuts or painful wounds on your child’s face requiring immediate medical attention. Although important, your child’s dental condition can always wait until the medical condition has been stabilised.