Tooth Trauma

Tooth Trauma

Play hard, protect your smile

Quick action is crucial to saving an injured tooth. Teeth are remarkably resilient but can be chipped, fractured or broken when quick, strong impact occurs. Thankfully, today’s advanced dental care makes it possible to repair or replace injured teeth if care is obtained within a certain amount of time.

Tooth trauma is very common, especially among children. In fact, one-third of 5-year-olds suffer injury to their primary (baby) teeth, and one-fourth of 12-year-olds suffer injury to their permanent teeth.1 Baby teeth are responsible for creating space for the adult teeth, helping develop clear speech and keeping permanent teeth healthy underneath. That’s why taking precautionary steps with an injured baby tooth is just as important as if it were a permanent tooth.

Preventive measures such as wearing a mouthguard during sports-related activities can help decrease the chances of tooth trauma and keep teeth happy and healthy.

Protecting teeth from injury isn’t always possible, but knowing what to do after trauma occurs can increase the chance of saving the tooth.

Follow these steps if a tooth is chipped, broken or knocked out:

  • Be prepared for an emergency by keeping the phone number of your dentist handy.
  • If possible, find all parts of the tooth and handle it by the top. Do not touch the root.
  • Do not clean or handle the tooth more than what is necessary.
  • Put the tooth back into the tooth socket if your child can hold it there without swallowing it. If not, place the tooth in a cup of milk to help prevent it from drying out.
  • If the injury involves braces or wires, cover sharp or protruding portions with cotton balls, gauze or dental wax. Do not remove any wires stuck into the gums, cheek or tongue.
  • Get to a dentist as quickly as possible.

This information is available for download as an oral health flier.

1 Andreasen JO, Andreasen FM, “Classification, etiology and epidemiology of traumatic dental injuries.” In: Andreasen JO, Andreasen FM, eds. Textbook and color atlas of traumatic injuries to the teeth. (Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 1994).

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