Dental Injuries

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Dental accidents can happen to anyone at any time. In an active world where many individuals enjoy sports activities, there is a risk of damaging the teeth.

Any injury to a child’s tooth or teeth is a serious matter. In a child, the injury can affect baby or permanent teeth. An injury to a child’s teeth can lead to infection and may damage the developing permanent tooth bud. A dental accident should be treated as an emergency.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Many dental injuries are related to sports and other forms of exercise. Other common causes include fighting and motor vehicle accidents. Physical abuse is linked to some dental injuries.

Symptoms & Signs

What are the signs and symptoms of the injury?

Symptoms vary depending on the injury but may include:

  • bleeding from the socket
  • bleeding from the traumatized gum or lips
  • pain and swelling of the gum or lip
  • tooth broken off
  • tooth knocked into the socket
  • tooth knocked out of the socket
  • traumatic injury to other parts of the face
  • Diagnosis & Tests

    How is the injury recognized?

    To clearly see the injury, the injured area must be cleaned. Blood and debris must be removed, using only clean, clear water. The healthcare provider may order dental X-rays to define the injury.

    Prevention & Expectations

    What can be done to prevent the injury?

    Many sports injuries can be prevented by wearing a mouth guard. The best mouth guards are custom-made by a healthcare provider. Mouth guard kits available from sporting good stores can also help prevent dental injuries. Sports safety guidelines for children, adolescents, and adults can prevent other injuries.

    Treatment & Monitoring

    What are the treatments for the injury?

    First aid for a dental injury includes the following steps:

  • Clean the area and determine the extent of the injury while calming the injured individual.
  • Try to find the tooth if it has been knocked out.
  • Rinse the tooth lightly with plain tap water and avoid touching or scraping the root surface. Touch the tooth on the biting edge only.
  • Try to place the tooth back into the socket.
  • If this is not possible, place the tooth in saliva from the patient’s mouth or from your mouth. Milk or a warm salt-water solution can also be used.
  • If bleeding continues, place a cool rag over the injured area and use mild pressure to stop the bleeding.
  • Get the injured individual to an emergency department or healthcare provider as soon as possible.
  • If the tooth is to be replanted, time is very important. The healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics and pain medicines for the individual.

    What are the side effects of the treatments?

    Pain medicines and antibiotics can cause bleeding, infection, or allergic reactions.

    What happens after treatment for the injury?

    The healthcare provider will make further recommendations for follow-up care. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.

    Article type: xmedgeneral