Accidents (trauma) that involve injury to the teeth, mouth and face are particularly common in childhood. Just over one third of all five-year-olds will have suffered an injury to their first (primary) teeth. By 12 years old, 20-30 percent of children will have suffered injuries to their teeth. Boys are one third more likely to be affected.
Rapid action by parents, carers and teachers can save a child's teeth, so it is important to know what to do if an accident should happen. With some injuries there is a much better chance of good recovery if treatment is given immediately, rather than waiting for professional assistance (see below). Any trauma or injury to first teeth (baby teeth) can affect the developing second teeth. Children who have had injuries to first teeth need to be monitored regularly by their dentist.
Injuries to the teeth can include a fracture of the tooth or root. The fracture can go through enamel only, through the enamel into the dentine (sensitive yellow tissue under the enamel), or into the pulp in the middle of a tooth (nerve and blood vessels).
Injury to the tissues that hold the tooth in place (periodontal ligament).
The tooth can be loosened or knocked out of its socket completely.
Severe injuries may include head injury and fractures of the jaw and facial bones. If severe injury is suspected, or there has been any period of loss of consciousness, the patient should be taken to hospital immediately.