Occasional teeth-grinding or clenching that isn’t causing your child any problems doesn’t need treatment. But if the grinding keeps going, you might want to talk to a dentist or GP. It could lead to your child experiencing headaches and tooth pain or jaw pain or wearing down their teeth.
Devices to protect teeth from grinding can help. You can get them from dentists.
Injuries to teeth
Injuries to your child’s face and teeth can happen when your child is running, climbing, riding scooters and bikes and so on.
It’s important to see a dentist or GP if your child damages their teeth or face, especially if a tooth is bumped, broken or moved out of its usual position.
Knocking out a baby tooth
If your child knocks out a baby tooth, don’t try to put it back in, because this can damage the adult tooth that’s developing under the gum.
Losing a baby tooth before it’s ready to come out usually isn’t a serious dental problem, but it’s important to take your child to the dentist immediately. Take the knocked-out tooth too.
The dentist can reassure you and your child that an adult tooth will eventually fill the space and that pain or tenderness in the area will soon go.
Knocking out an adult tooth
Losing an adult tooth is more serious, but there are a few things you and your child can do that might stop your child from losing the tooth permanently:
- Find the tooth.
- Hold the tooth by the top (‘crown’), not the roots.
- If the tooth is dirty, rinse it in milk or saline (salt and water) solution for a few seconds. Don’t rinse the tooth with water.
- Don’t let the tooth dry out.
- Put the tooth back in its socket immediately.
- Hold the tooth in place with aluminium foil. If you don’t have any aluminium foil handy, your child can bite down gently on a clean cloth – for example, a handkerchief.
- Take your child to the dentist or a hospital emergency department immediately. Time is critical.
If for some reason you can’t replace the tooth in its socket – for example, if your child is unconscious or distressed – put the tooth in milk or saline solution, or wrap it in plastic cling film and see your dentist or go to a hospital emergency department immediately.
If your child chips or fractures a tooth, keep the piece of tooth and store it in milk. See your dentist immediately.
If your child plays sport, check the sport’s rules and recommendations about mouth guards. In many junior sports with a high risk of face contact or head injury, wearing a mouth guard or other protective equipment is compulsory.
There are 3 types of mouth guards:
- ‘boil and bite’, which mould around your child’s teeth and jawbone
- customised, which are made by a dental professional.
Customised mouth guards are the most comfortable and provide the best protection because they’re made specially to fit your child’s teeth and jaws.
Mouth guards should:
- be thick enough (4 mm) to provide protection against impact
- fit snugly and be comfortable
- be odourless and tasteless
- allow normal breathing and swallowing
- allow normal speech.
Here’s what your child should do to keep the mouth guard clean and in good shape:
- Rinse it before each use, and brush it with a non-abrasive toothpaste afterwards.
- Clean it every now and then in soapy water, making sure to rinse it thoroughly.
- Carry it in a container that has vents.
- Avoid leaving it in the sun or in hot water.
Your child should take the mouth guard to dental visits to make sure it still fits correctly. Your child might need a new mouth guard when changes happen in their mouth – for example, when adult teeth come through.
Your child should wear the mouth guard during training sessions and match play if there’s a risk of knocks or falls.