Tooth trauma in a child

Children can injure their teeth when they tumble or while playing or during sports activities. The tooth trauma in a child may be to a baby tooth or an adult tooth. A tooth may crack, chip, come slightly loose after trauma or come out of its socket. Your child may have bleeding from the injured area, pain, and /or increased sensitivity after a tooth injury.

A fall or knock to the face can result in a wound to the lips, tongue, cheek or a loosened tooth. Mouth injuries can cause plenty of bleeding or swelling, which may need urgent dental treatment. (Your Canberra dentist at Molonglo Dental Surgery can be reached on 0457123000 for an urgent after-hours appointment )

If a tooth is knocked out in a collision or fall, administering the correct first aid may conserve the tooth.

As you are aware, kids until the age of 6 years have deciduous or baby teeth. (Certain variations in the time of eruption are ‘normal’. Kindly book an appointment with your kid-friendly dentist to know the difference between ‘acceptable’ and ‘problematic’ delays while the teeth are erupting.)

Thereafter, until the age of 16-18 years, children gradually lose their baby teeth. Deciduous teeth are replaced with adult or permanent teeth. The final tooth to erupt (if at all) is the wisdom tooth or the third molar. (Sometimes the wisdom tooth could be absent or could be ‘stuck in the bone. If you’re in the age group of 18-20 years, it is advisable to consult with us to know more about Impacted Third molars or painless wisdom tooth removal )

How do I know if the tooth injury is to a baby tooth or an adult tooth?

Well, all children under the age of 5 years will certainly have their baby teeth. The permanent teeth begin appearing or erupting in the mouth only after the age of 6 years.

The two basic differences between a baby tooth and a permanent tooth are in terms of colour and edges. A baby tooth will be whiter than a permanent tooth. However, baby teeth have smooth edges while the edges of a permanent tooth will be jagged.

To know more about the type, the number and the health of the teeth in your child’s mouth, a routine visit to a dentist is advised. ( Molonglo Dental Surgery is a child-friendly practice. We sympathise with our little patients and understand their fears. Hence we have a special kid’s dino chair installed in our office. Call us on 0262871222 to know more about dental check-ups for children.)

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What prompt measures must I take after a teeth injury in my child?

Dental trauma in children can be overwhelming not just for the child but for the primary caregiver as well. According to a recent study conducted in the Women’s and Children Hospital in Adelaide, 56.1% of dental trauma in children occurred in kids under the age of 5 years.

However, there are some differences in the management of tooth injuries depending on if the tooth is a baby/deciduous tooth or a permanent/adult tooth.

We at the Molonglo Dental Surgery recommend the following guidelines in case of an injury or trauma to a tooth in a child.

Trauma to baby teeth/deciduous teeth/milk teeth
(Immediate Management)
  • Try and remain calm. Once you feel in control of the situation, try and calm and reassure your child. At this point, you may expect wailing, shrieking and sobbing.
  • In case of a serious injury, you may discover a lot of bleeding. In that case, arrange for a piece of clean gauze. However, if that is unavailable, a clean face washer will help too.
  • If your child is at an appropriate age to follow instructions, ask him/her to bite down on the gauze or the face washer for a few minutes. If your child is little, with the gauze or face washer, apply gentle pressure on the suspected area of injury.
However, if the injury seems serious and the bleeding doesn't stop or it seems like a severe head injury, it's imperative to rush into the ED of the nearest hospital.
  • You can give your child an ice-pop to suck on (age-appropriate) or hold an ice pack wrapped in a washcloth to the cheek. This will aid in reducing the swelling.
  • The subsequent step would be to take a quick look at the area of injury. At this time you need to check how much of the tooth is in the mouth.

Chipped tooth– If a small part of the tooth has chipped, you needn’t worry much about the tooth. Your child wouldn’t need urgent dental care at this point with regards to the chipped tooth. However, an eventual visit to the dentist is mandatory to assess the tooth and the gums around it and to plan a restorative or an aesthetic procedure, as necessary.

Broken tooth– If half or more than half of the baby tooth has broken, it is imperative to look for the broken part in your child’s mouth. This step will ensure that your child won’t choke on the broken tooth. The broken part of the tooth can be conserved in a piece of cotton for your dentist to see.

Contrary to deciduous teeth, a permanent broken tooth or an adult tooth that moves a little in the socket, both need immediate dental attention. You can call your helpful Canberra dentist for an after-hours appointment on

Slightly loose tooth after trauma– In case a tooth is moving slightly in the socket, you needn’t worry about rushing to your dentist for an after-hours appointment immediately. Often, the gums tighten around the tooth in time. During the period that the gums are tightening around the loosened tooth, your child may experience pain on chewing. You may give acetaminophen or ibuprofen as needed. However, you must watch for color changes, increasing pain and any boils or blisters in the gingiva surrounding that tooth or a fever. In that regard, it is advisable to get a dental consultation at your earliest.

The whole baby tooth out of the mouth– In a situation where the whole tooth comes out of its socket, make sure it isn’t in your child’s mouth. A baby tooth or a deciduous tooth that comes out of the socket, cannot be put back. A dental consultation at the quickest will help the dentist plan the subsequent dental treatment, if any, to avoid crooked permanent teeth

Knocked-out adult tooth– A permanent tooth that’s out of its socket necessitates an emergency dental appointment.


1. Find the tooth.


2. Call your dentist.


3. Hold the tooth by the ‘crown’ portion only. (Chewing surface of the tooth in question). Kindly do not touch the root portion to avoid contamination and damage to the delicate tissue on it.


4. If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse with milk or child’s saliva to remove the dirt.


5. Pour some milk or ask your child to spit in a zip-lock bag. That done, place the tooth in the zip-lock bag to carry it to your dentist.


6. Ask your child to gently bite down on a gauze or face washer to reduce the bleeding and pain.

Alternatively, if the tooth is found and free of contamination, you may rinse the tooth with milk, place it back in the child’s tooth space and ask your child to bite down on the tooth gently until you reach the dental office.

What can I do to avoid these dental injuries in my child?

It is a good idea to educate yourself with regards to traumatic injuries in children and their immediate management. Your family-friendly practice in Canberra, Molonglo Dental Surgery, shall be pleased to guide you and/or the child’s primary caregiver in immediate dental trauma management.

In addition, you may use the Internet to browse through various videos describing dental injury in kids and its management.

Since school teachers are often the first responders, their knowledge about the emergency management of traumatic dental injuries needs to be satisfactory as well.

Furthermore, youngsters and teenagers must be educated as well on how to avoid traumatic injuries to their teeth by using mouth guards, protective gear and helmets while playing outdoors or in competitive sports.

Your dentist at Molonglo Dental Surgery thinks that a strategic measure for preventing dental and oral injuries is educating parents and primary caregivers on how to avoid traumatic injuries in paediatric dentistry and what to do if an injury occurs.

Are the children’s treatments expensive?

Launched on 1 January 2014, the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) is a dental benefits programme that provides children and teenagers aged between 2 to 17 up to $1000 for basic dental services.

At Molonglo Dental Surgery, we welcome all CDBS claims from eligible children. All you have to do is present the child’s eligibility letter at our clinic (if available) along with your Medicare card first to check eligibility and then make the claims on the spot. In most cases, you won’t have to make any out-of-pocket expenses for the basic dental services as set out in the CDBS guidelines.

If your child is eligible for $1000 worth of CDBS benefits, you can claim it on the spot at Molonglo Dental Surgery. To book an appointment, just give us a call at 02 6287 1222 or visit our website to know more.

From General dentistry to Endodontics, Periodontics, Pediatric dentistry and Aesthetic dental services, Molonglo Dental Surgery is a well-equipped and family-friendly practice. It is the only health centre you’ll require for all your oral care needs.


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