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Dental trauma is very common in children resulting in slit lips or early exfoliation of primary dentition, their baby teeth falling out. In adult’s dental trauma can be much more serious from fractured teeth requiring a filling to fracture jaws resulting in major reconstructive surgery. Some groups of adults are more prone to dental trauma such as those who suffer frequent falls due to uncontrolled epilepsy. Accidents or facial injury due to impaired balance or challenging behaviour or those who plan competitive sports.

So what can be done to reduce dental trauma?

If a person has epilepsy (see our separate video on epilepsy) try to ensure they have regular medical checks to prevent seizures and check the mouth after a seizure to check for dental trauma.

Whenever playing competitive sportswear a mouthguard. These can be a mould to fit option available in sports shops or a tailor-made model created by a dental professional. This provides much greater protection from impact and helps prevent damage to the teeth and soft tissues.

If you work with or support people who have challenge behaviour or fall frequently ensure you have a procedure for treating dental first aid.

So when an accident happens, what is the correct first aid treatment?

If you receive trauma to the face, mouth or teeth check for any loose or broken teeth, if a tooth feels loose do not wiggle it or try and remove it. Keep it in place and visit the dentist as soon as possible. Do not rinse it or clean it in any way. The chances of the tooth reattaching are greatly increased if you do not remove it entirely from the mouth or rinse it. The dentist may splint it to the opposing teeth using adhesive filling material to secure the tooth in place until the area has healed or the tooth re-implanted.
If a crown, inlay or bridge has come out keep it safe and clean and take it with you to the dentist. It may be possible to reattach it with dental adhesive or assist the dentist in creating a treatment plan to replace the missing or broken tooth. To find out more about crowns bridges and inlays please see the additional unit.

If a dental accident or trauma results in the nerve in the centre of the tooth is damaged. In the short term, this may result in pain, swelling and an abbess forming near the tooth. The tooth may need to be extracted/removed or may need to have the nerve removed from the centre of the tooth. Damage to the nerve or removal of the nerve may result in the tooth discolouring over time and becomes weaker or more brittle. This may mean that the tooth will require further treatment in the future.

Finally, let’s summarise what to do.

  • Remove only loose teeth, fractured parts of teeth, crowns or bridges if they pose a choking hazard
  • Get to the dentist as soon as possible
  • Use a cold compress on the outside of the mouth to reduce swelling