As a parent, you need to understand the basics of a range of common injuries and emergencies, and chipped or cracked teeth are one of them. If you have an active child, you may eventually face a cracked or chipped tooth at some time. Whether you are in the midst of a dental emergency or just researching in case something happens, here is what all parents need to know about cracked teeth:
1. You can minimise the risk of cracked teeth
With the right precautions, you can minimise the risk of cracked or chipped teeth. Teeth are much more likely to crack if they are decayed or weak. Take steps to keep your child's teeth as strong as possible by helping them brush and floss regularly, taking them to the dentist for regular exams and ensuring they eat a healthy diet.
Further minimise the risk of dental injuries and emergencies by having your child wear safety gear while doing intense activities. Children should wear mouthguards while skateboarding, playing rugby, rock climbing or doing any other inherently dangerous activities.
2. You don't need to panic – some cracks are just superficial
Regardless of how careful you are or how much safety gear your child wears, accidents can happen. If your child chips or cracks his or her tooth, stay calm as you approach the situation.
Some cracks or chips are simply superficial, and they only affect the layer of enamel on your child's tooth. If you can see a crack but your child doesn't have any pain, you can wait until his or her next regular dental appointment to address it.
If the jagged edges around the chip or crack irritate your child's mouth or his or her lips, get a small amount of wax. You can use the wax sold for people with braces or just a bit of candle wax. Rub that over the tooth to create a protective layer that won't scratch your child's mouth.
3. You need to pay attention to your child's pain levels to determine how to react
In most cases, you can safely use over-the-counter pain killers for up to two days after your child cracks his or her tooth. If your child has no more pain after that time, it is likely just be a superficial crack. However, if the pain persists, you need to take your child to the emergency dentist as soon as possible.
4. You cannot see all dental cracks
Not all dental cracks show up in the tooth. Some occur in the root of the tooth, and these invisible cracks can lead to serious issues. If your child sustains an injury to the face, keep an eye on his or her mouth.
If he or she reports lots of pain and has swelling in the gums around one of his or her teeth, he or she may have a crack in his or her tooth root. If you suspect a root crack, contact an emergency dentist right away and get into his or her office as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, a crack in that area can let in infection, which has the potential to kill the entire root and ruin the tooth completely.
5. You need to be aware that concussions may accompany cracked teeth
If your child has a cracked tooth, do not exclusively focus on that issue. If the crack happened as a result of a blow to the head, keep in mind that there may be other effects than just dental damage.
After any head injury, make sure that you monitor your child for signs of a concussion. Don't let your child fall asleep for several hours after the injury, and monitor him or her for signs of confusion, memory loss, lack of balance and nausea. If you see any of these signs, take your child to the emergency department immediately.