What can I do to prevent injuries to my child's teeth?
When it comes to protecting your child's mouth, the safety habits that prevent injuries to teeth are every bit as important as good hygiene. Activities such as baseball, soccer, football, karate, and roller-blading all pose potential hazards to your child's teeth. As a general rule, your child should wear a mouth guard whenever there's a chance that she'll come into contact with other participants or with hard surfaces.
If your child chips or breaks a tooth during a game, or in an injury or fall, you should take her to the pediatric dentist immediately. If the whole tooth has been knocked out, the old dental myth does hold true: Put your child's tooth in milk immediately and get right to the dentist. The calcium in the milk helps keep the cells on the root surface of the tooth alive, which is essential for the dentist to be able to reattach the tooth. The longer the tooth is out of the mouth, the less likely it is that the dentist will be able to save it.
What if the dentist says my child needs braces?
Although most children don't get braces until about age 12, in certain cases pediatric dentists recommend an earlier use of them to correct structural problems in the teeth or jaws. These structural problems include teeth that stick out beyond the lip, severe crowding, a crossbite (when the lower teeth overlap with the upper ones), and an underbite (when the jaw sticks out abnormally). Since each case needs to be treated individually, it's best to get a second opinion if a dentist is recommending braces for a child who still has baby teeth.
Reviewed 2/02 by Jane Forester, MD
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.