How can I prevent tooth injuries?

Q: What can I do to prevent injuries to my child's teeth?

A: While many tooth injuries occur during sports or active play, babies and toddlers can also be vulnerable. The bathtub is the most likely place for babies and toddlers to chip or knock out teeth, since kids are prone to falling there. You should never leave your child unattended in the bathtub, even for a second. Invest in an infant seat for your baby, since it can be difficult to keep her from slipping when she's wet and squirmy. Once your child is in school, sports open up a whole range of potential tooth and mouth injuries. Insist your child wear a mouth guard when he plays sports like baseball, softball, hockey, soccer, football, lacrosse, karate, and even in-line skating. You can buy one at most sporting goods stores.

If your child chips or knocks out a tooth, get him to a dentist immediately. If the whole tooth has been knocked out, find it, safeguard it in a container of milk or water and bring it with you. The moisture will actually help keep the cells on the roots of the tooth alive, which helps the dentist reimplant it. The longer the tooth is out of the mouth, the less likely it is that the dentist will be able to save it. If your child knocks out a baby tooth, however, don't worry about finding it (unless you want it for your scrapbook) since your dentist will most likely not reimplant it. But you should call the dentist anyway, since your child may need a space maintainer to protect the permanent tooth growing underneath and ensure that his teeth remain properly spaced.

Copyright 2009

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