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Dental and Oral Health (Children)

Loose tooth problems

09/27/2006

Question:

My 6 year old grandaughter was recently hit in the mouth by her sisters head. One of her upper front teeth is now very loose and clear.

We have asked that the mother take her to the dentist to have it looked at and they have told us that it does not bother our granddaughter therefore she does not need to go. (We have dental insurance for her).

A doctor told us that if this tooth is not treated the following can happen:

1) It can affect her permanent teeth

2) It can cause an infection in her upper face

3) It can cause an infection in her throat.

4) It can cause permanent damage

Is this true?

Answer:

This is a really good and IMPORTANT question; It sounds like your granddaughter has seen a physician already- this is a good start!

Dental trauma of primary (baby) teeth can indeed affect the development and appearance of the permanent tooth. If the nerve is affected and "dies," then indeed it can lead to a facial infection, which in some cases can be quite severe and life-threatening, particularly if it spreads to where breathing/swallowing are affected. 

In many cases, the effects of dental trauma are not "felt" until  4-6 weeks after the trauma, so having a dentist looking immediately after trauma helps establish a good "baseline" of how things look. Also, adjacent teeth that may seem "unaffected" may have been injured in the trauma as well - this is what a dentist will assess.

While it's possible your granddaughter may have nothing more than a loose baby tooth ready to come out, it is ALWAYS recommended that a child see a dentist after dental trauma. A dentist can advise you of potential effects of the trauma and give you an idea of what to look for, so you don't miss the signs of an infection.

Finally, a dentist can make recommendations whether a pediatrician / primary care physician should be consulted for head trauma.

In summary, a clinical exam by a dentist is warranted in this situation. The teeth should be assessed BEFORE they become a problem. Thanks for the great question!

 

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Response by:

Sarath  Thikkurissy, DDS, MS Sarath Thikkurissy, DDS, MS
Associate Professor of Pediatric Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University