Oral Injury Prevention & Response
Injuries to the head, face, and mouth can happen to anyone, but they are very common among infants and children. As they are learning to crawl and walk, infants and toddlers will fall or bump into furniture, walls, or other objects. Take steps to keep yourself and your loved ones safe at home, in the car, on the playground, and on the sports field. While preventing a mouth or face injury is the best strategy, you should also learn how to administer first aid for common dental injuries.
According to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, dental injuries are the most common type of mouth-face injury received during participation in sports.
What You Should Do
- Wear mouth guards when playing field hockey, ice hockey and lacrosse as mandated by Rhode Island Interscholastic league.
- Wear mouth guards when playing baseball, basketball, boxing, football, rugby, soccer, softball, volleyball and wrestling as further recommended by Rhode Island Interscholastic league.
- Make sure well-fitting athletic mouth guards/mouth protectors, face protectors, and helmets are worn as appropriate to protect the teeth, jaws, gums, lips, cheeks, and tongue during athletic activities.
- Make sure child safety seats and seat belts are used in the car and helmet are worn when biking, skateboarding, or roller skating.
- Keep young children safe at home by installing baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs and using safety locks on cabinets and windows.
- Make sure playgrounds are safe and equipment is in good condition and surrounded by a soft surface, such as sand, wood chips/mulch, or rubber mats. Supervise children when they use play equipment.
- Keep emergency numbers, including those for poison control, healthcare providers, and dentists, posted by the phone. Make sure you and your family's caregivers know how to handle emergency situations.
Know Dental First Aid
A dentist should evaluate anyone with orofacial injuries and/or pain as soon as possible. Know how to administer first aid for dental injuries before you get to the dentist.
- Toothache+ Toothache-
- This is the most common reason for dental pain in a child. It is usually due to the presence of tooth decay.
- Rinse the mouth with warm water.
- Carefully remove food/debris stuck between the teeth with floss in the area of the pain.
- If swelling is present, apply a cold compress.
- Knocked-Out Baby Tooth+ Knocked-Out Baby Tooth-
- Do not replace the tooth back in the socket.
- Knocked-Out Permanent Tooth+ Knocked-Out Permanent Tooth-
- Locate the tooth.
- Hold the tooth by the crown only. Do not touch the root or scrub the tooth. Rinse the tooth gently in water if debris is present.
- If possible, put the tooth back into the socket. Hold it in place by biting on gauze.
- If the tooth canít be replaced put the tooth in milk, saline, or cool water.
- Time is critical. Get to a dentist within 30 minutes for the best prognosis.
- Fractured Tooth+ Fractured Tooth-
- Rinse the mouth with warm water to remove debris.
- Apply a cold compress to control swelling.
- Try to locate all pieces of the fractured tooth.
- Head Trauma or Jaw Fracture+ Head Trauma or Jaw Fracture-
- Seek immediate medical attention.
- A severe head injury can be life-threatening. Keep in mind that an emergency medical team might be able to reach you faster than you can get to the hospital.
- Loose Braces+ Loose Braces-
- If an end of the orthodontic wire is loose, cover the end of the wire with wax, cotton, gauze, or chewing gum.
- If the entire wire is loose, gently try to remove it. Do not use force.
- If the wire is stuck in the gums, tongue, or cheek, do not try to remove it.