What should I do if my child falls and hits a tooth?
As your child learns to walk, run, climb and play sports they are bound to fall and have accidents, especially active toddlers; occasionally they may hit a tooth. If they do first make sure that they have no other injuries (to their face or head, for example) that need emergency treatment. If they do, seek medical advice.
If their gums start to bleed, apply pressure with a piece of wet gauze for few minutes (or until the bleeding stops). A cool teething ring or frozen cold flannel can limit the swelling and has the added benefit of taking your child's mind off the pain. If your child's teeth and gums look just fine and they don't seem to be in any pain, they should be okay without a dental check. However, should you see anything unusual with their gums or teeth over the next week, such as swelling and tenderness we would recommend a visit to the dentist.
If the tooth is chipped or cracked and your child seems to be in pain, you should call the dentist straight away for an emergency appointment, but if they don’t seem to be in any pain or discomfort then schedule an appointment at your convenience. Your dentist will need to evaluate whether there are underlying cracks or other damage you can't see, they can also repair the tooth by filling it or patching it with bonding material.
You should also take your child to the dentist if the tooth has been knocked out, is very loose or seems out of place. Baby teeth are important because they help your child eat and speak and because they hold a spot in your baby's mouth for his permanent teeth to come in properly. If a baby tooth gets knocked out, it's not usually a problem because a permanent tooth will eventually grow in its place, but your dentist will want to monitor your child’s progress.
My child’s new permanent teeth or tooth is growing in behind their baby teeth?
This is a very common question. Usually the permanent tooth grows directly below the baby tooth causing the baby tooth’s root to shrink making it effectively “rootless” so that it falls out. If this does not happen the baby tooth will not get “pushed out” so the permanent tooth will grow up behind forming what appears to be a second row of teeth. This most commonly occurs with the lower incisors between the ages of 5 – 7 years.
For most children this is temporary as the baby tooth will fall out on its own. It helps if as soon as the permanent tooth erupts, parents encourage their child to wiggle their baby tooth back, forth and in a twisting motion. Some kids are willing and excited about doing this, while others will refuse completely.
If the baby tooth shows no sign of loosening, it may have to be removed by the dentist to allow the permanent tooth to grow into its proper position. It is worth considering a visit to your dentist if it appears that the baby tooth is not on its way out. Please know that in these circumstances the removal of a baby tooth is generally a quick and painless procedure that most kids tolerate just fine! In fact most will go home with a smile, excited about getting a visit from the tooth fairy!
Why are my child’s teeth discoloured?
In most cases it is normal for the permanent teeth to look darker or yellow, assuming that the child has not injured their teeth,. It's actually considered to be an optical illusion! The baby teeth are actually nick-named "milk-teeth" because of their bright, white color. When permanent teeth come in next to them, it gives them the appearance of being very yellow. Our permanent teeth have thicker layers of underlying dentine (layer of tooth beneath the outer enamel) which naturally has hues of yellow, red, or grey. Once all the permanent teeth have erupted, their appearance should be of a uniform colour; therefore it should not be a problem. If the issue is not highlighted with your child, the chances are they will not notice, and will not become self conscious.
Another cause of yellow teeth is poor oral hygiene. If the child is not brushing properly, or refuses to brush routinely, a thick coating of yellow plaque will build up on their teeth. This can make them appear up to 3-4 shades darker than they actually are. If you see a layer of "fuzzy" looking film that looks as if it could be scraped off, then your child needs to improve their brushing to prevent discoloration and most importantly, decay! Disclosing tablets are an ideal aid, they show up plaque and require a good brushing technique to remove the artificial colouring effectively.
My child sucks their thumb, is this a problem?
Thumb sucking is a reflex that enables babies to suckle from birth. It usually involves placing the thumb into the mouth and rhythmically repeating sucking for a prolonged duration and is considered to be soothing and therapeutic. As a child develops the habit, it will usually develop a “favourite” finger or pacifier to suck on. Most children stop sucking on thumbs, pacifiers and other objects on their own by the age of 4 to 5 years, though some older children will retain the habit, and it can cause dental problems.
It is only when the permanent teeth start to erupt that it might cause concern because it may affect the positioning of the teeth and the shape of the mouth, by narrowing the arch in the roof of the mouth. Hence, children should be strongly encouraged to stop thumb sucking so that it does not persist beyond the age of 6 or 7 years. Your dentist will monitor your child’s tooth development closely as part of their routine dental care.