My four kids love to get out and enjoy their summer vacations, have adventures and make the most of every long day. There’s so much more daylight for running, biking, playing and having fun during the summer. But that’s also more time for tooth trauma to possibly happen. Parents, grandparents and babysitters can take a few basic steps to help reduce a child’s risk for dental trauma and also have a game in place, if a dental trauma occurs.
Here are a couple easy ways to reduce your child’s risk of dental and facial trauma…
MOUTH GUARDS – If your child is involved in any sport, consider using protective equipment. There are three basic types of mouth guards: custom, boil and bite, and stock. Custom mouth guards are made by a dentist to individually fit your child’s mouth. The boil and bite type of mouth guards can be formed at home to fit a child’s mouth reasonably well. This is often the best option for children with changing dentitions, losing baby teeth and growing new permanent teeth. The stock mouth guard is typically my least favorite because it can have problems with the fit and can be uncomfortable. Mouth guards only protect the teeth and the jaw when they are worn, so it is important to find a mouth guard option that is as comfortable as possible.
Strongly consider these precautions if your child is prone to hyperactivity, since this condition is associated with significantly more dental injuries.
EXCESSIVE OVERJET PREVENTION – The frequency of dental trauma is significantly higher in kids who have a large amount of “overjet.” This term refers to the amount that the upper front teeth jut out over the lower front teeth. If the upper front teeth are flared or sticking out beyond the lips, that puts them at significantly higher risk for damage from a fall. When teeth stick out beyond the lips, they are not protected by the lips anymore. This is referred to as “lip incompetence.” This can develop as a child grows, especially if one or both of the parents have the same facial structure with flaring front teeth. But it can also be caused by thumb or finger sucking and pacifier use. That is one of the reasons why dentists provide guidance on cessation of these non-nutritive habits before excessive “overjet” develops.
Even with the best prevention, dental trauma in children can still happen. Here’s what YOU can do if you experience one of these common dental traumas this summer…
Fall with Gum Tearing – For minor tears, it is important to clean the gums as thoroughly as possible with either a very soft infant toothbrush or a clean washcloth. Larger tears may need sutures and should be evaluated by a dentist. Sometimes parents focus on a relatively minor gum tear and miss a larger cracked molar, so it is important to follow up with your child’s dentist after an injury.
Knocked out BABY TOOTH – If you are certain that it was a baby tooth, DO NOT put the tooth back in the socket. The body will reject the replanted baby tooth similar to what happens when you get a splinter. Typically kids have front baby teeth until they are at least 6 years old. The adult front teeth do not usually erupt until after 7 years old.
Knocked out ADULT TOOTH – This is a true dental emergency; the child will need to see a dentist as soon as possible, preferably within 60 MINUTES of the injury. If you can, pick up the tooth by the white crown portion. If it is dirty, run the tooth under water for 10 seconds and then replant it immediately into the socket. Have the child bite gently onto a cloth to help hold it in place while you are en-route to the dentist. If this is not possible, then put the tooth into a glass of cold milk during the car ride to the dentist.
We all want our children to enjoy a wonderful and happy summer. With a few preventative steps and knowledge of dental trauma treatment, you can help your child enjoy a lifetime of healthy smiles!
– Dr. Mandy Ashley DMD, MsEd, MS
About the Author: Dr. Mandy Ashley DMD, MsEd, MS is a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist and owner of SKY Pediatric Dentistry. SKY Pediatric Dentistry is MOVING TO OUR NEW OFFICE at 234 NATCHEZ TRACE on July 1, 2019. With over 20 years experience as a dentist, Dr. Ashley and her SKY team provide modern, fun dental care for all children as well as adults with special needs. You can visit the website www.skypediatricdentistry.com check us out on Facebook, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 270-715-5437 for more information on the practice and to schedule an appointment.