Dealing with Trauma to Baby Teeth

Rough and tumble play or participation in sports or other athletic activities are important to a child's health and development. These activities, however, can result in falls, impacts, or other types of injuries to a child's teeth, oral soft tissues, and other nearby anatomy. 

When these types of injuries occur and affect baby teeth (or primary, non-permanent primary teeth), many parents assume that they don't need to worry because the tooth would have eventually fallen out and been replaced with a permanent tooth anyway. While it is true that some injuries to primary teeth do not require medical attention, these kinds of injuries can still sometimes cause problems down the line. So, having your child examined and evaluated following any trauma to the teeth, mouth, face, or head is important. 

Why Baby Teeth Injuries Require Medical Attention

When a child's primary tooth is injured, chipped, knocked loose, or knocked out, a dental professional's main concern is, of course, minimizing any immediate symptoms, complications, and concerns in addition to helping prevent any issues that could affect the development of the permanent tooth. 

When baby teeth are injured, the development of the permanent teeth can be affected resulting in concerns such as discoloration of the permanent tooth, irregular pattern or sequence of permanent tooth eruption, or malformation of the permanent tooth's crown or root. 

Common Types of Pediatric Dental Trauma

Concussed Primary Teeth

A concussed primary tooth is a tooth that has undergone an impact injury without becoming knocked out or loose. These teeth can feel bruised or sensitive to the touch. They can sometimes also become discolored (changing to yellow, grey, or black), like a bruise occurring inside the tooth. 

These teeth can heal without complications but should be monitored to ensure they do not negatively impact the development of permanent teeth. 

Displaced Primary Teeth

Primary teeth can become displayed as a result of trauma. They can be pushed into the socket (intrusion), pushed partially out of the socket (extrusion), or pushed sideways, forward, or back (lateral luxation). 

With all displacement injuries, x-rays are typically recommended to evaluate the state of the primary tooth and any potentially impacted permanent teeth. Intrusion injuries present the highest risk of damaging the developing permanent teeth, but any injury of this type could require further monitoring, extraction, or other treatment. 

Fractured Primary Tooth

Baby teeth can become fractured on the crown or the root as a result of trauma. This can appear as a break, crack, or chip that impacts the root or the crown's enamel or enamel and dentin layers. Treatment (extraction, dental filling, or dental bonding) for a fractured tooth depends on the location, type, and severity of the fracture. 

Avulsed (Knocked out) Primary Tooth

An avulsed tooth is one that is completely displaced from the socket. These injuries are typically accompanied by trauma to the neighboring soft tissues, as well. 

AVULSED PRIMARY INCISORS

This is the complete displacement of a tooth out of its bony socket. There may be associated soft tissue injuries to the lips and gums. When primary teeth are knocked out, they should not be replaced in the socket, as this can further risk damaging a developing permanent tooth. 

The Best Way to Prevent Mouth Injuries, Trauma to the Teeth, and Concussions

While there's no way for parents to prevent all accidents, you can minimize your child's risk of dental trauma with an athletic mouthguard worn during high-risk activities and sports. These include any sports that involve balls, pucks, or sticks moving through the air in addition to activities where there is a risk of impact or falling like rollerskating, skateboarding, or horseback riding. 

Athletic mouthguards help to absorb the shock of any type of impact that occurs including having a ball or stick hit the face or having the teeth bite down hard during a fall or tackle. This protects the teeth, soft tissues, and head from injury. 

We're Here When You Need Us: Your Dentist in Muskego, Wisconsin

If your child has an injury or trauma to his or her teeth, mouth, or jaw, we encourage you to contact our office as soon as possible. We can provide you with care instructions over the phone, help you determine whether or not your child needs emergency medical attention, and examine your child's tooth to provide care and support to prevent further complications. 

To learn more about pediatric dental care and trauma to baby teeth, we welcome you to contact our dental office in Muskego, Wisconsin.

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