how trauma can effect the long term health of your childs front teeth - savina dental clinics malta and gozo

When it comes to kids, teeth, especially the front ones, are a magnet for trauma. The most common age group for tooth trauma is usually between 1.5 to 3 years. This is mainly because, at this age, kids still lack proper coordination and tend to fall often as they learn to walk and run. The upper front teeth are often most affected.

While injury to baby teeth has little to no serious effect on the teeth, problems may still occur after the traumatic incident. So it is important to have the teeth monitored closely.

As for damage to permanent front teeth, the repercussions may be more serious. Trauma to adult teeth can affect the proper development of the teeth as well as their function and the health of your child’s mouth. That is why we highly recommend early assessment after an accident to evaluate the severity of trauma and to formulate a treatment plan.

If you are looking for a dentist Malta or dentist Gozo, you can book a dental appointment online at one of Savina Dental Clinics, or contact us directly on (+356) 2125 7253 (Skyparks Business Centre, Malta International Airport), or (+356) 2155 7323 (Dingli Street, Victoria, Gozo). For international patients, it is recommended to request a free e-consultation where we can discuss your individual case and treatment options.

Causes of tooth injury in children

Accidents that cause injury to the face, mouth and teeth are quite common. These accidents can happen indoors or outdoors.  According to the World Health Organization, falls are the most common cause of dental trauma in kids below 4 years. For instance, a fall on the pavement can cause your child to hit their teeth causing injury to one or more front teeth.

Your child may also endure trauma during play, sporting activities or even road traffic accidents. If this happens to your child, you should consult your dentist as early as possible to ensure proper dental treatment is given. The dentist will examine the injured area to determine the extent of the damage and devise the right treatment plan.

Signs of a mouth injury

Parents should learn the signs of a mouth injury in kids to catch the problem early. Dental trauma can manifest as:

  • Fever
  • Bruising or swelling
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Complaints of facial pain
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth

Possible complications

Most children recover from dental injuries without many complications. To achieve this, however, prompt treatment and regular follow-up with your dentist will ensure the best possible outcome.

In a small number of cases, complications can occur including:

Damage to the permanent teeth

This may include complete loss of the tooth, sensitivity to heat/cold or discolouration of the tooth. If you choose to have a permanent tooth replaced in the socket if this is possible, a root canal treatment will be required and a crown may need to be placed in the future.

Discolouration of the permanent tooth

Tooth discolouration occurs when there is an increased blood flow to the broken vessels in the tooth. This leads to a greyish tinge that causes the tooth to look slightly darker than the rest. This is normally a sign that the pulp of the tooth is dying.

Infection

In some cases, dental trauma may cause the pulp of a tooth to die, which reduces blood flow around the area. As a result, an abscess may form. Such infections can be quite painful and may result in tooth loss and other serious complications if left untreated. Treatment normally involves the removal of the dead nerve (root canal treatment).

Crown/root malformation

Dental trauma can cause an irregular bend to a child’s tooth crown or root.

Changes in the pattern/sequence of teeth eruption

Dental trauma can affect the normal development of permanent teeth and may result in malocclusion.

Excessive bleeding

Sometimes, an injury to the mouth may cause excessive bleeding, especially if a major blood vessel was damaged. If the bleeding persists, your child may need urgent medical attention.

Scarring

If the trauma caused wounds to the lip, they may heal with a scar. Tears to the tongue that do not heal well may also affect swallowing and speech.

Treating children’s tooth injuries

Treating children's tooth injuries - savina dental clinic malta

Prompt and immediate actions taken at the site of the incident can help reduce pain and anxiety as well as salvage the injured teeth. This can help prevent permanent tooth loss in the most important stage of growth and development of the child.

  • In case of bleeding, gently compress the bleeding area with cotton or a clean cloth
  • If your child is experiencing pain and swelling, you can apply an ice compress or a cold pack for about 20 minutes until the pain and swelling subside. Cover the cold pack with a clean dry cloth or gauze before placing it over your child’s skin.
  • If the pain persists, administer an over the counter painkiller such as ibuprofen or paracetamol
  • Serve soft foods until they feel better as they may experience difficulty chewing food for a few days after the trauma.
  • In cases where the trauma causes your child’s teeth to chip, fracture or crack, keep the tooth fragment to take to your dentist if you can find it. Cracked or fractured teeth must be treated immediately to prevent further damage. Usually, even the fractured teeth can be fixed to their normal shape.
  • Should the trauma occur in dirty environments such as a patch of soil, the wound may be contaminated and the child may require a tetanus shot.

When to call your child’s dentist

You should call your dentist if:

  • You think your child needs to be seen or has a serious injury
  • Bleeding is uncontrollable even after compressing with a gauze or clean cloth for ten minutes
  • The teeth are out of position causing difficulty in biting
  • The affected teeth are out of their sockets
  • Aching pain in the affected tooth
  • Tooth turns to a darker colour
  • Cold fluids cause tooth pain
  • Your child develops a fever
  • Redness or swelling in the affected area
  • Headache, dizziness, or confusion

Preventing tooth injuries

There are a few ways that parents can try to reduce the chances of mouth and dental injuries. You can help your child avoid dental injuries by investing in mouthguards. There are many types of mouthguards including:

  • Stock mouthguards: During recreational and sports activities, ensure your child wears a stock mouthguard.
  • Boil and bite mouthguards: Alternatively, you can get the boil and bite mouthguard, which is put in hot water to soften and then placed and shaped around the teeth using fingers
  • Custom-made mouthguards: For better protection, you should consider creating a custom-made mouthguard for your child. This is tailor-made using a mould your dentist takes of your child’s teeth to fit your child’s mouth properly.

Also, teach your children not to put anything other than food or drinks in their mouths to prevent mouth injuries. Always use car seats for younger children and ensure the older ones wear their seat belts.

If your child sustains trauma to their teeth, we highly recommend that you have them visit a dentist in the shortest time possible. Quick and appropriate treatment can reduce pain and anxiety as well as ensure the best possible treatment for the affected teeth.

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Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at its disposal.

Joseph Xuereb
Principal Dental Surgeon & Owner of Savina Dental Clinics, Dr Joseph Xuereb BChD (Hons), MFGDP(UK), MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP RCS(UK), FICD is a general dental practitioner with a special interest in Implant and Restorative Dentistry. Dr Joseph & the teams' full biographical information can be found here.