3 Things to Monitor After Your Child Hits Their Tooth

Dr. Kyle Hornby

This article is about something that most parents will experience at some point with their little gem. Kids have accidents and hit their teeth from time to time. Sometimes, the trauma is light - that is, the tooth is not loose as a result of the accident. However, when they hit their teeth hard (from a fall on the pavement, hitting their teeth on bicycle handlebars, or getting hit in the face with a ball), one or more front teeth might become temporarily loose.

Now, before I get into Dental Management of trauma injuries, you will want to check to assess other possible injuries including cuts and scrapes or loss of consciousness. In some instances, there may be a priority to have other injuries assessed by a medical doctor, in-office or at the hospital.

These kind of situations often cause parents to panic. Parents will usually bring their child to their Kitchener-Waterloo Family or Children's Dentist for an emergency examination. So, what do we look for? And how should you monitor the long-term healing after oral trauma?

To be clear, it is best to bring your child to their Family Dentist to have their mouth, gums, teeth examined post-accident. From there, your Kitchener Dentist can discuss any necessary treatment (often times this is just a month or two of monitoring the healing teeth) and go through what to watch out for. Generally, your Family Dentist will look at a few things:

  • Broken teeth. If one or more teeth are broken, your Dentist will need to repair them with dental fillings. If the fracture is near the nerve, they may recommend root canal treatment.
  • Loose teeth. If teeth are loose, they may need to be attached together or splinted for a period of 4-6 weeks. Your Dentist will also recommend that your child stay on a softer diet. This will help reattachment of gums and bone to your tooth root. This is how things "tighten up" to eliminate the looseness.
  • Root fractures. Your Kitchener Dentist will likely want to take x-rays to rule out any root fractures that cannot be seen under the gums. If one or more teeth have sustained root fractures, those teeth will need to be extracted (luckily this is very rare).
  • Soft tissue injury. Your Dentist will identify any gum or lip trauma. They may need to debride and clean the area and prescribe an antibiotic ointment during healing.

So, now, here are the 3 things you will want to monitor during your child's healing period...

1. Any chewing pain that does not go away.

As your child's tooth heals, any tenderness during the loose phase should go away. If the tooth continues to be sensitive with pressure and movement (i.e. 2-3 weeks post-accident), call your Kitchener-Waterloo Family or Children's Dentist. This can be a sign that of a dental abscess or infection.

2. Any bumps or "boils" on your child's gums.

A dental abscess or infection will often form a bump or pus pimple on your child's gums. The location will be directly above the loose tooth. If it occurs, it will typically be in the area on the gums where the tooth's root tip would be. This is often 0.5 - 1cm above where the gum line is. If you see this, please call your Dentist as further treatment will be necessary.

3. Tooth discolouration.

Your child's tooth may or may not discolour after trauma. This is often a sign of damage to the blood vessels inside the tooth resulting in a purple or greyish colour. In some cases, the tooth may return to original colour. In other cases, the tooth will remain discoloured. A change in colour may indicate need for root canal treatment.

If purple or grey tooth is a baby tooth, it will fall out around 6-7 years of age, on average. If post-trauma discolouration occurs with and adult tooth, dental bonding or placement of a dental crown can improve aesthetics. 

Summary

If your child sustains a trauma injury around the mouth, it can be a nerve-racking experience. I would generally recommend that your child see their Family or Children's Dentist following any dental accident or emergency. Your Kitchener Dentist will examine your child, recommend any treatment necessary, and schedule a follow up appointment. The follow up appointment allows the Dentist to monitor healing and it ensures that you're not on your own managing the recovery long-term. Until your child's follow-up appointment(s) with the Dentist, you can keep an eye out for a few things such as persistent pain, swellings and tooth discolouration. Contacting your Kitchener-Waterloo Family Dentist when you observe these signs can help to ensure the best possible healing outcome following your child's dental accident.

For further information about Childhood Dental Emergencies, please refer to the useful article provided by the Ontario Dental Association, here.

Thanks for reading today!

By Dr. Kyle Hornby, Kitchener Dentist

If your child has had a dental accident, give us a call at (519) 576-8160 or request an emergency exam here.

Our Kitchener Dental Clinic is conveniently located in Downtown Kitchener and we are a short drive away for families in Waterloo, Breslau & St. Jacobs. Our central location means we truly offer family dentistry near you!

This article is meant to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Accordingly, always seek the advice of your Kitchener Dentist or other healthcare provider regarding a dental condition or treatment.

Enjoy a fresh start.
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