Understanding Dental Trauma: Immediate Steps for Accidents and Injuries

Dental trauma can be a frightening experience for both children and adults. It can be caused by a variety of factors including sports injuries, accidents at home and in school, or simply biting down hard on something. In some cases the tooth may fracture, crack or be completely knocked out. If it’s not treated quickly, the injury can result in permanent damage and even infection.

This is why it’s important to know what steps to take if you or someone you care for sustains a dental injury. By following the appropriate steps you can help prevent serious long-term damage to the tooth, as well as reduce pain and discomfort.

Dental trauma is any injury to the teeth, gum tissue or jaw bones that may affect their function, aesthetics or stability. It can occur from a variety of activities, including sports and leisure activities, motor vehicle accidents, interpersonal violence or everyday behaviour such as chewing ice cubes, using teeth to open bottles or packaging or practising certain sporting activities without adequate protection (e.g. boxing).

The severity of a dental injury can vary from minor chips to a tooth that is completely knocked out. Injuries can also have invisible components, such as cracks that may only be visible on a dental x-ray or those that happen below the gum line (root fractures). It is important to visit a Northbrook dentist after any kind of injury as even if an accident seems insignificant, there could be undetected damage that will lead to expensive and long-lasting issues later.

Although a dental emergency is defined as “any injury that requires immediate medical attention”, not all dental injuries are considered emergencies and can be managed at home, e.g. a cracked or chipped tooth that is not painful, and a partially knocked out tooth that has not been replanted. However, a displaced front tooth of a child should be replaced immediately to avoid future problems and a traumatic dental event, while a partially knocked out adult tooth can often be saved by repositioning the tooth (see the Dental Trauma Guide website for more information).

This scoping review aimed at identifying and summarising evidence on education modes to promote public awareness about dental trauma. A systematic approach was used, following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for scoping reviews (PRISMA). All papers that reported educational interventions on dental trauma were included. The results of the literature showed that all the education modalities tested were effective in increasing knowledge about dental trauma and reducing attitudes of laypeople regarding first aid. Printed educational materials seemed to be the most efficient for the general population, and should be offered through channels accessible to them (e.g., schools, sport coaches and non-dental medical staff). Educators can deliver lectures or workshops to educate the public, but these methods require external resources and can have high cost.

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