Children develop their adult incisors (front teeth) at a young age – 6 years old. Their bodies are still growing so their teeth may appear very big, they may stick out if the child is too young for to have braces yet.
During the development stage in particular, the teeth are very vulnerable, especially if the top teeth stick out over the bottom teeth.
There are many times that a child can have an accident that results in a dental trauma. Dental traumas most commonly occur while playing on skates, bicycles and trampolines; while taking part in contact sports like rugby, Gaelic football, football, hockey; or martial arts.
There is a range of dental traumas from small chips off teeth, teeth being moved, large chunks fractured off or teeth totally knocked out.
What to do?
Firstly: Has the child been hurt otherwise? Have they lost consciousness? - Important as teeth are, if the child has other injuries or has lost consciousness, they are best to have medical care first of all.
Has the tooth been broken? If so can you find the broken piece? – This is important to ensure it has not been swallowed or embedded into their tongue or lip.
Has the tooth been knocked out totally?
If the tooth is an adult tooth (usually if child 6 or older), it needs to be repositioned as soon as possible and certainly within an hour. If it’s clean, lift it by the crown (the bit outside the gum normally) and don’t touch the root (bloody part)
If the tooth is dirty rinse it under running water or with saliva. Place it into position if possible and bite on a handkerchief or tissue to keep in position and attend a dentist for fixation.
If not possible to reimplant, place it in mouth of patient between cheek and teeth and make sure not to swallow; or in a container of milk and go to the dentist as quickly as possible.
How to prevent dental trauma?
The best way to protect teeth while playing sports is to wear a sports mouthguard.
The best ones are custom made, have equal thickness or material over teeth and are specific to sport played. E.g. boxing needs to be thicker than football.
They fit comfortably; don’t fall out when mouth open and you can bite together evenly.
If the teeth don’t meet evenly and the child receives a blow to the chin – their jaw is more likely to be broken.
Gum shields are available in sports shops that get molded after softening in boiling water. Unfortunately as they end up an uneven thickness and the teeth don’t meet together evenly, they don’t offer the same level of protection as a custom made one.
Prevention of a dental injury is much better than the cure.
Dr. Claire Hughes