Dr. Tabitha Jarman Gatrey owns Pediatric Smiles in McCalla and serves infants, children, teens, and children with special needs. We sat down to ask her a few questions about dental trauma.
What are the most common types of dental trauma that you see?
The most common type I see is a tooth fracture. Fractures are usually the result of a fall or hit by an object. Other types of traumas are soft tissue (lips) lacerations, tooth loss (avulsion), and mobile teeth. It is important to be evaluated by a dentist, but injuries involving the mouth can impact the head/brain. If there are signs of a concussion, they need to be seen in the emergency room.
If a child has an accident and a tooth appears to be loose, what should a parent do?
After a trauma I suggest that a parent call their pediatric or general dentist as soon as possible. A loose tooth could be associated with a tooth/root fracture. If a baby tooth has moved from its natural position, it could damage the permanent tooth. Seeing a dentist early can prevent infection or other problems.
If a child’s tooth falls out as a result of an accident, what should a parent do?
Put it in milk and call their dentist as soon as possible. Time is critical. Sometimes a permanent tooth can be saved and placed back in the socket. Baby teeth are usually not reimplanted due to risk of infection and damage to the developing permanent tooth.
What advice do you have for helping to avoid dental trauma?
The best prevention is to limit reckless play; allowing one child to jump on a trampoline at a time, not allowing your child to run with objects in their hands, and removing things that can cause trips/falls are good examples. When playing a sport, your child should use a mouth guard to decrease trauma to the mouth. It is impossible to totally prevent dental trauma, but actively watching your child and directing safe play are important.