When Trauma Happens...
November 30, 2012
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When Trauma Happens...


            Parents of young children know that life is full of cuts and scrapes and Neosporin and Band-Aids.  Hardly a week goes by that we fail to observe some new bruise or get a note home from the school nurse.


Dear Doctors Parrish,


            Today your son/daughter met a nice piece of playground equipment/desk/chair/guard rail/got choked.  As a result, he/she was sent to the nurse for a cut/black eye/swollen tushie/red face.  We applied ice/wiped away tears/gave them a cracker/M&M.  Everything got better.  On a positive note, I am getting to know Parker/Peyton very well.  Until I write again/next week/tomorrow, have a great day.


            Somewhere in our family file cabinet is a stack of these little yellow slips.


            When it comes to teeth, the majority of problems and pain evolve slowly over time.  Cavities, gum disease, and leaky fillings take months or years to develop.  Most adult toothache visits begin with the statement, “It started as a twinge a few weeks ago...”


            Then there are kids.  No matter what we do to protect them, they have a mind of their own.  They laugh, play, and run and, inevitably, get hurt.  All we parents can do is try to be prepared and nurturing.  We keep them as safe as we can and pray for the best.


            To that end, here’s a quick guide to dealing with dental trauma and kids.


            First, stay calm and nurturing.  When a kid gets hit in the face or teeth there is often blood and crying.  Get your child to a sink and find a towel.  Let them cry and the bleeding stop.  As soon as possible, gently clean the area.  A warm saltwater rinse helps, if tolerable.  Mouthwash is a bad idea (it usually has alcohol that will burn).  As is ice.  Frozen water meeting an exposed tooth nerve will lead to more tears.  Ice outside the mouth is okay.


            After the area is clean and the child calmed, take a look around.  Are the teeth still in line?  Are all the teeth still there?  Can the child open and close?  Do the teeth still bite together normally?  If any of these answers are no, then a call to your dentist is in order.  If any teeth are broken off and bleeding from the inside of the tooth, call your dentist.  Ditto for tears in the gum tissue between teeth.  This is often a sign of a jaw fracture.


            As soon as you can, get some children’s ibuprofen into them.  Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory that will help to reduce the pain and the swelling.  Remember, this can take up to thirty minutes to start helping, so the sooner it is swallowed, the better.


            If you determine the trauma to be minor, it’s still a good idea to see your dentist for a follow up visit or tell them what happened at your child’s next routine appointment.  The effects of dental trauma can sometimes show up years after an accident occurs and a radiograph (x-ray) of the area might help with intervention.


            Until next week, be careful, and keep smiling.


-Please send comments to Drs. Parrish at www.ParrishDental.com.