Occasional teeth-grinding 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 – it could lead to your child experiencing headaches, tooth pain or jaw pain, or wearing down her 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 he’s running, climbing, riding scooters and bikes and so on. It’s a good idea to see a doctor or dentist if your child damages his teeth or face, especially if a tooth turns black or purple.

If your child knocks out a baby tooth, don’t try to put it back in. This can cause problems later on when the adult tooth starts to come through.

Losing a baby tooth before it’s ready to come out usually isn’t a serious dental problem, but it’s important that you take your child to the dentist immediately for a check-up. Seeing the dentist and knowing that an adult tooth will eventually fill the space, and that pain or tenderness in the area will soon go, might help you and your child to feel better.

Losing an adult tooth is a bit more serious, but there are a few things you and your child can do that might stop her from losing her 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 or cotton flannel.
  • See your dentist immediately – time is critical, so you should take your child to the dentist as soon as possible.

If for some reason you can’t replace the tooth in its socket – for example, if your child is unconscious – put the tooth in milk or saline solution, or wrap it in plastic cling film and see your dentist immediately.

If your child chips or fractures a tooth, keep the piece of tooth and store it in milk. See your dentist immediately.

Mouth guards

If your child plays sport, it’s a good idea to get him used to wearing a mouth guard from an early age.

There are three types of mouth guards:

  • ready-made
  • ‘boil and bite’, which mould around your child’s teeth and jawbone
  • customised, which are made by a dental professional. These 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.

To keep her mouth guard clean and in good shape, your child can:

  • 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 along to dental visits to make sure it still fits correctly. He might need a new mouth guard when changes happen in his mouth, such as 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.