Information for the Patient About Dental Trauma
1 Provide information for patients who have suffered a traumatic dental injury.
When teeth or jaws have been injured, many questions arise. Can the injury be treated? How long will it take? How much will it cost? What is the prognosis for traumatized teeth? Is treatment covered by insurance or public agencies? When the dentist is faced with an emergency, it is of utmost importance to give emotional support to the patient as well as to the stressed and anxious parents. An attempt will be made to answer such questions here.225–228 The following material can be copied and used as handouts for patients.
PRIMARY (MILK) TOOTH INJURIES
Often there is just loosening of the primary (milk) tooth. Inform the parents to wait for the loosened primary tooth to tighten up, which usually happens within a few weeks. In this healing period, it is very important that the child avoids hard foods, but that doesn‘t mean a liquid diet.
In some cases, the tooth is forced into the jaw. An X-ray will be taken to determine the extent of injury and to discover whether the permanent tooth bud – which lies just under the primary tooth root – has also been affected. If this is the case, it may be necessary to remove the primary tooth to improve the chance of normal development of the permanent tooth. If the primary tooth is not too close to the permanent tooth germ the displaced primary tooth may grow out again within 2–4 months.
In rare cases, an infection of the root can develop, which will cause swelling and redness around the injured tooth. It is very important that this infection be treated by the dentist immediately, so that it doesn‘t spread to the permanent tooth. Record in the chart that the parent has been informed about possible complications in the developing permanent teeth, especially following intrusion, avulsion and alveolar fracture injuries sustained in children under 3 years of age.228