When all you want for Christmas is two front teeth
Dental injuries can happen at any time so knowing what to do when a dental injury occurs is critical.
One in five Australian children will suffer a dental trauma by the age of 14, many of which occur at Christmas.
Bikes, scooters, skateboards and trampolines are associated with a significant amount of dental trauma.
Last Christmas, ADASA’s Christmas and New Year Emergency Dental Treatment Service received 165 calls from South Australians facing a dental emergency.
While the kids prepare for a visit from the man in red, the Australian Dental Association SA Branch (ADASA) is urging their parents to take steps to avoid an emergency visit to the dentist this holiday season.
ADASA spokesman Dr Angelo Papageorgiou said Christmas was traditionally one of the busiest times for dentists.
Last year, ADASA’s Christmas and New Year Emergency Dental Treatment Service hotline received 165 calls from South Australians facing a dental emergency – including trauma and chipped teeth – he said.
“We want parents to be aware that dental emergencies can crop up at any time, so are as prepared as possible; especially during the Christmas season,” Dr Papageorgiou said.
“Bikes, scooters, skateboards and trampolines are wonderful presents, but are unfortunately also associated with a significant amount of dental trauma.
“One in five Australian children will suffer a dental trauma by the age of 14[i], and it’s not surprising that many of these occur to kids who get sporting equipment as Christmas presents.”
He said while children should be encouraged to participate in sports, parents needed to ensure they were adequately protected when doing so.
“If sporting equipment is going under your Christmas tree, make sure a properly fitted, custom-fitted mouthguard does too.
“Custom-fitted mouthguards help to absorb and spread the impact of a blow to the face, which may otherwise result in broken teeth or an injury to the lips, tongue, face or jaw.”
Dr Papageorgiou said if parents were faced with a dental emergency this Christmas season, they should first try to contact their regular dentist.
“If their practice is unattended, they can then contact ADASA Christmas and New Year Emergency Dental Treatment Service on 08 7111 3676 and we’ll direct them to a dentist who’s open.”
He also encouraged parents to be aware of the basic principles of dental first aid.
“Many parents have first-aid training, but how many people are aware of the principles of dental first aid?
“An accident involving the teeth can result in injuries that can in the least be expensive to repair and in the most serious cases, can be permanently disfiguring.
“That is why we’re urging parents to familiarise themselves with the initial management of dental injuries. These simple principles should be second nature to all.”
Dental first aid:
If a primary or baby tooth is knocked out,
Do not attempt to put the tooth back in.
Store the tooth in milk or saliva and take it to your dentist immediately.
Attend regular dental check-ups so your dentist can monitor how the adult teeth are developing.
If a secondary or adult tooth is knocked out,
Locate the tooth as quickly as possible and handle it with care - don’t hold the tooth by the root.
If the tooth is dirty, rinse it with some milk, or if milk is unavailable use tap water, but only for a second or two. Do not scrub or rub the root surface and avoid soaking the tooth.
Insert the tooth back into its previous position in the mouth, making sure it is the right way around and in the right place. Once it’s in, gently bite down on a clean piece of soft cloth or tissue to help keep the tooth in place.
If the tooth is wobbly, fold a small piece of aluminium foil over the area to help keep it in place. If you have a mouthguard, put it into your mouth to stabilise the traumatized tooth.
If you can’t get the tooth back in, don’t force it. Keep the tooth moist at all times by storing it in a small container with a small amount (enough to cover the whole tooth) of milk or saline. The tooth can also be transported in the mouth, by keeping it between the molars and the inside of the cheeks. Do not place the tooth in water or wrap it in tissue or cloth as this will dry out the tooth.
See a dentist immediately, ideally within 30 minutes. The sooner the tooth is replaced, the greater the likelihood it will survive.
ADASA’s dental practice directory, which includes emergency dental, can be accessed at http://www.adasa.asn.au/find-a-dentist